As the child of an aging parent, it can be difficult to notice signs that things may not be as “fine” as the parent claims them to be. Those who live far away and may be consumed with their own busy lives can easily miss changes that can affect their parent’s safety, health, and overall well-being.
When visiting a parent or loved one, the signs listed below are just some of the things to keep an eye on to make sure they are continuing to manage well at home. Spending the night at a person’s house can often provide more insights than a short visit, and can allow you to observe hygiene, cleaning, and nutrition habits.
- If things are piling up, the lawn and garden are overgrown, and laundry is not done, household chores may be too much to handle.
- In the kitchen, charred pots and pans or burn marks on the countertops can indicate potential safety concerns. Expired food in the refrigerator may mean that nutrition needs are not being met.
- Scratches on the side of the car could indicate it’s time to give up the keys.
- Even when living with a spouse, the partner who serves as caregiver may be overwhelmed and in need of support.
A parent or loved one who insists they are managing fine by themselves will likely be resistant to accepting help. They may be too proud, in denial, or trying to avoid feeling like a burden. It’s important to approach any conversation with sensitivity and not just force a solution upon the person.
Adjustments to help a loved one manage at home can be small and may not require much disruption to personal routines. Hiring a cleaning service, transportation, or home care to assist with daily activities can help an older adult maintain their confidence and remain independent in their home.
Agreeing to check in every few months can help to identify potential issues and find solutions before they get serious. Maintaining an open dialogue about the changes that lie ahead can help to avoid surprises and avoid children having to “parent” their older parents.