When They’re Not Fine: Spotting the Signs that Elderly Parents Need Help

It creeps up on you. On one day, your parents are dispensing well-meaning advice to their adult children. Seemingly, the next, they’re old, grey, and struggling in daily life. If you are interested with the idea of working in an environment that supports the elderly, consider working towards a Certificate 3 in Individual Support. This often-sporadic contact can lead to not seeing the signs as quickly expected too.

While when prompted, they’ll probably reply that, “We’re fine,” parents often aren’t fine at all. They just don’t want to make a fuss. Also, it’s difficult for them to take a step back and ask for the help they need. Because of that, we as siblings must spot the signs. They’re not always obvious, so here are some of the things to look out for to indicate that your parents need your assistance.

1.     Managing Their Money

They’re probably living off a fixed income. Likely it doesn’t go up that much and probably isn’t keeping up with inflation either. So, the money they have available every month to live is gradually eroding.

Mistakes can get made. Writing a check with an extra zero, paying for the same thing twice, or forgetting to pay before leaving the store are all possibilities. Each of these would indicate some challenges around managing their money.

When they’ve repeatedly commented that “the price of things these days keep going up,” see this as a sign that they could be struggling financially.

If it’s your mother, she’s likely to be less direct than your father. Also, she may not have managed money for the household before, so if your father has recently passed, it all could be confusing for her.

2.     Been Financially Ripped Off Once or More

Seniors are targeted by scammers in various ways.

They’re often more trusting as people because it was perhaps a nicer world in decades past. Also, they may be taken in by a good story whereas you’d see right through it. Some of the confidence schemes against the elderly are insidious, begin innocently enough, and can see them lose substantial assets.

Even a single instance of their being scammed is a flash red light. You probably won’t learn about it until months or years later because they’re either still confused about what happened or they’re too embarrassed. However, once you learn of it, it’s important to understand what happened to avoid repetition.

If it happens repeatedly, then it’s time to step in to manage their money and limit their exposure to bad actors.

3.     Their Home is Becoming Less Clean

Many older people gradually become clutter bugs or collectors. Old newspapers or books pile up that they’ll never read again but refuse to part with either. Boxes of miscellaneous items collected through the decades sit about, clutter up the garage, or spare bedrooms.

It can be simply that they don’t clean the home as often now. So, when you arrive, you’ll need to put a vacuum over the carpets, and dust around the place.

Bear in mind that it could be that crouching down to clean is painful for their knees or ankles. Just plugging the vacuum into a ground-level power outlet could now be too difficult, so they leave the cleaning to another day. Then another.

A cleaning service that comes around regularly is one way to handle this and remove the burden.

4.     Cooking is Leading to Accidents

Cooking is harder to do when you don’t have flexibility, arm strength, or grip strength like you used to. So, imagine trying to lift a pan of boiling water off the stove once the vegetables or rice have finished cooking. Or holding a plate while dishing up what’s in the frying pan?

Suddenly, small cooking tasks that we take for granted are something they’re now struggling with. Maybe a year ago that wasn’t the case, but now there are accidents in the kitchen where they’ve scolded themselves after a pan tipped over.

See if there’s a meal delivery service that would solve this problem. They can use a microwave to reheat food too.

5.     Inconsistent Behavior

Inconsistent behavior from what you know about them is a tell-tale sign too.

If they’re unusually stressed whereas they were a calm person before, then that’s a sign. Or if they’re withdrawn and don’t participate much in shared conversations whereas before they were gregarious, that’s another sign.

They could be depressed and only perk up a little when a loved one call. You might notice it if you’re there and a friend phones in.

What to Do When You Know They’re Suffering

Assess the level of help that they need.

It could be that between delivery services, a caregiver popping over once a week, or other service providers filling in the gaps, that things they’re not getting to or finding difficult can be resolved.

However, if they’re lonely for people contact or depressed in their declining years, then it may be time to consider a facility such as Belmont Village assisted living Los Gatos. A facility that provides assisted living allows them to retain their independence with a managed apartment but share amenities with other people their own age. It can bridge the gap between what they’re capable of still doing for themselves and what’s needed to keep them happy and healthy for as long as possible.

Adjusting to New Realities

While we never like to see anyone getting old, it’s a fact of life for all of us. With our parents, it’s a reminder that we’re all fallible. Even with all the anti-aging creams in the world, holding back time is still only possible in Hollywood.

The adjustments are ongoing with getting older. Activities that were easy to perform a couple of months ago may suddenly now be difficult to complete for them. A few months later, impossible to do. This is the situation for anyone getting into their senior years unless they’re extremely fortunate.

Staying fit and mentally active helps to ward off the effects of aging, but it can only do so much for your parents and anyone else who’s getting up in years. Subsequently, expect to need to reconsider the options as you go along with aging parents.

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