If you’re the caregiver of aging parents, you might not be actually living with them, but helping them live independently alone (or as a couple) in their home. Some caregivers live in the same town as their parents, but some live farther away, depending on help from family members, neighbors, and home care providers to fill the gaps. Being a caregiver means continually observing how well your parents are managing living independently because as they get older, it’s possible their ability to take care of themselves may change. Unfortunately, your parents may not be completely upfront on areas they are struggling with so you’ll want to keep an eye out for these physical signs that they need more assistance from you, a home care provider, or someone else.
- Noticeable weight loss. While it could be due to a health issue, weight loss could also indicate your parents are no longer making and eating healthy meals. Having a meal delivery program added to their schedule or having a home care provider help with meal prep and preparation could help your parents get the nutrition they need.
- Poor personal hygiene or disheveled appearances. Getting ready in the morning might have become difficult or it could even be a matter of depression setting in, causing your parents to not care about how they look each day.
- Injuries your parents don’t want to talk about. If you’ve spotted bruises on your parents’ bodies or injuries from burns or cuts, they may be trying to perform tasks they can no longer do safely, or they might be falling more often. Getting honest answers from your parents will help you provide assistive devices around the home to keep them safe and injury-free.
- Stacks of unopened mail and bills. Opening and sorting mail may be a bit overwhelming for your parents but bills still need to be paid. Asking a family member or trusted individual to go through your parents’ mail each week and pay bills in a timely manner will prevent further problems of late fees and collection agencies.
- An untidy home. If your parents have always kept a clean home but now when you visit, you notice the tub is filthy or garbage has not been taken out, they might be having a difficult time maintaining routine upkeep. A home care provider can step in and help with areas that have become hard for your parents to manage anymore.
- Withdrawing from social gatherings. Even if both parents are still living in their home, they might still be struggling with loneliness and/or depression, causing them to withdraw from activities they used to enjoy. They may need professional help if their mental health is suffering, or they may simply need more personal interaction with people outside of themselves.
- Damage to their vehicle(s). It’s possible that your parents are no longer able to drive safely. It could just be at night or it might be at all times. Reduce their time behind the wheel by arranging rides for errands and appointments.
Your parents might feel like some of your questions are intrusive if you notice any of these indicators that they could use a little more help, but in the end, they will appreciate the assistance given so they can continue to live independently.