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Should I be Concerned About My Parents?

How to Identify if Mom or Dad Needs Help at Home

When we gather together for holidays and special occasions, we look forward with great anticipation to being with family and friends whom we may not see often. Absence may indeed make the heart grow fonder, but it also makes gradual changes in an aging loved one more apparent. Adult children of aging parents are often surprised and concerned at the changes they see in a parent or the household when they visit after long period of time.

The following may indicate a change in the physical or mental abilities of a parent or loved one:

• Piles of unpaid bills
• A stove that looks unused or has items piled on top
• Food in the refrigerator that has spoiled, or lack of food in the refrigerator
• The same items in the cupboards or pantry since your last visit.
• Obvious weight loss
• Your parent wears the same clothing throughout your visit.
• Nothing in the hamper or laundry basket
• Slight odor of urine or dirty hair
• Pet appears underfed or not cared for (litter box not changed, etc.)
• Too much or too little medicine remaining in bottles or medication set • Trouble finding keys or other commonly used items
• Unexplained dents and scratches on the car
• General untidiness in a previously neat home.

If you note any of these changes, make an appointment as soon as possible with the family physician or geriatrician to assess the situation. Be certain that a relative, trusted friend or advocate attends all medical appointments to ensure that any advice or changes in medication are implemented.

The loved one may benefit from having a caregiver come to the home to assist with light housekeeping, medication reminders, running errands and even to keep an eye on things. If having a caregiver in the home is not an option, perhaps it's time to consider a personal care home or assisted living facility.