As your parents get older, how can you be sure they’re taking care of themselves properly and staying healthy? When you visit your aging parents, ask yourself the following questions. Then, if necessary, take steps to help them maintain their independence.
Seven Questions to Ask Yourself:
Everyone forgets things from time to time. There is a difference between normal changes in memory and the type of memory loss associated with Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia
- Are your aging parents taking care of themselves? Pay attention to your parents’ appearance. Are their clothes clean? Do they appear to be taking good care of themselves? Failure to keep up with daily routines, such as bathing, tooth brushing and other basic grooming, could indicate dementia, depression or physical impairments. Pay attention to their home. Are lights working? Is the heat on? Are the bathrooms clean? Is the yard overgrown?
- Are your parents experiencing memory loss? Everyone forgets things from time to time. There is a difference between normal changes in memory and the type of memory loss associated with Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia.
- Are your aging parents safe in their home? Take a look around, keeping an eye out for any red flags. Do your parents have difficulty navigating a narrow stairway? Has either parent fallen recently? Are they able to read directions on medication containers?
- Are your aging parents safe on the road? Driving can sometimes be challenging for older adults. If your aging parents become confused while driving, or you’re concerned about their ability to drive safely, it might be time for them to stop driving.
- Have your parents lost weight? Losing weight without trying could be a sign that something’s wrong. For aging parents, weight loss could be related to many factors, including: Difficulty cooking, Loss of taste or smell, Underlying conditions (dementia, depression or cancer)
- Are your aging parents in good spirits? Note their moods and ask how they’re feeling. A drastically different mood or outlook could be a sign of depression or other health concerns. Are they connecting with friends?
- Are your parents able to get around? How are they walking? Is arthritis making it difficult to get around the house? Would either parent benefit from a cane or walker?
TAKE ACTION TO TAKE CARE
- Share your concern with your parents
- Encourage regular medical checkups
- Address safety issues
- Consider home care services
- Contact the doctor for guidance
- Seek help from local agencies
Sometimes aging parents won’t admit they need help, while others just don’t realize it. That’s where you come in. Remind them that you care about them and that you want to do what’s best to promote their health and well being, both today and in the months and years to come.
Lois Young-Tulin, PhD, is an Assistant Geriatric Care Manager at Complete Care Strategies