You love your parents—they cared for you when you were sick, they praised you when you did well in school, and they tended your children when you had to work late. Even as they age, your parents still put you and the rest of the family first.
Your parents deserve the same level of care they gave you throughout your life. And though they might not want to admit it, they may need a little extra help now and again.
If your parents exhibit the following warning signs, you may need to hire in-house care or change their living situation to ensure they stay healthy, safe, and happy as they age.
- You Discover Bills and Mail Piled Up
Although checking and opening the mail may seem like a small task, the effort may become overwhelming for your parents. If they previously handled their money or their mail well, and you find unpaid electric bills or medical bills lying forgotten in the corner, you may need to give them a hand.
Many seniors live on a fixed income, and an emergency trip to the doctor for a sprained ankle or broken hip can make it difficult for them to make ends meet. Don’t be afraid to ask specific questions about their finances, even if they tell you “not to worry.”
If you find your parents struggling financially, discuss ways your family members can contribute to paying their monthly expenses. Also look into ways they can lower their expenses. Some utility companies offer breaks on energy bills while others offer senior discounts.
- You Notice New Dents and Scratches in Their Car
You’ve long left behind the days when your parents drive you to soccer practice or after-school events, so you might not notice how well your parents drive.
However, if you see any new scratches, dents, or other damage on their cars, it could be a sign that their vision and motor skills have deteriorated. Arthritis, pain, and stiffness can make it harder for your parents to change lanes or move their feet from the gas to the brake pedal. And reaction times often slow with age, making it difficult to keep track of changes in road signs and traffic.
If they complain about how car insurance rates keep going up, it could indicate they’ve been involved in one or more accidents, and you may need to help them find alternative means of transportation.
- You Find Spoiled Food in Their Fridge
If you look at your fridge, you may find one or two leftovers well past their prime, so it’s understandable to see a gallon of spoiled milk or a moldy container of sour cream in your parent’s fridge.
But forgotten and spoiled food could also indicate that your parents have a hard time reading the expiration dates or smelling rotting food. It could also be a sign that your parents don’t have the stamina to cook large meals anymore. They might eat just enough to get by but not enough to maintain a healthy weight.
Casually ask for advice about different recipes you want to try, then lead into asking your parents about what they’ve purchased lately. This can help you determine any changes in their diet and give you the opportunity to discuss having family meals together.
- You See Them Wear the Same Clothes Over and Over
Many older adults like to fall into the same routine they’ve created over the years. Perhaps they enjoy watching the 10 o’clock news each night, or they always eat breakfast at 7. They may even like to wear their favorite shirts and jeans because it helps them feel comfortable and in control.
However, if you see your parents wearing the same outfits over and over, or if you spot any other changes in appearance, your parents might be struggling to keep up with their personal hygiene. Arthritic hands may struggle to patch holes, or stiff fingers might not achieve the same clean shave anymore. Your parents may feel unsteady stepping into a bathtub, so they skip their regular shower to avoid accidents.
You may want to bring in a third party, such as a nurse or caregiver, to assist with these everyday tasks, or alter your parents’ home so it’s more accommodating to their growing unsteadiness.
- You Spot More Bruising Than Usual
Your parents likely love their independence, so they may try to prove to you that they can cope on their own. Because of this, they might not tell you about the times they fall in the bathtub or trip on the stairs. But if you spot any unusual scratches or bruising, take the time to ask them about it, as the injuries could indicate increasing difficulties with balance and mobility.
If they worry about slipping in the bathroom, have a professional install grab bars around the tub. If your parents struggle to make it up and down the stairs, have a licensed technician install a stairlift in their home.
With your help, your parents can continue to feel comfortable and independent despite any physical limitations they may have.