Five Signs Your Parents May Need Additional Support

Article Image

With the holidays quickly approaching, and may be anticipating spending the holidays with family with your parents.  As the weeks turn to days until Christmas, you may begin to notice some signs from your loved ones that may concern you. 

For many, the holidays are a time of relaxation and spending time with loved ones; They are also an opportune time to check on their well-being. To help families with this over the holidays,  here are top 5 signs to look for when you attend to your parents during the holiday season. If you find one or more of these, it may be an indicator that you need to consider some extra support for them.  

Subtle change in their personal routine

Some of the obvious signs you can look for are changes in their personal routine. This could mean neglect in personal hygiene, missing doctors’ appointments, and/or changes in their sleep patterns.  It is common to forget a few things on occasion; if it happens with your loved ones more often than unusual, it may be time to seek additional support to maintain their safety.

You may remember that the house was usually clean and tidy; now it seems a bit disheveled.  It would be best to kindly check in with them to see if they need any help around the house such as bathing, cleaning the house, picking up mail, having clean clothes etc.  Sometimes, these signs may not be obvious at the time, but keep a lookout for it if anything happens.

You become concerned for their personal safety

Over time as your parents age, you may notice a number of things chaing. You remember your mother being able to walk to the park or her favorite coffee shop to meet with her friends. Now you find yourself concerned whether she has gotten home safely or if she struggles to find her way back home. You may also start noticing your father now has a hard time getting up the stairs without falling. 

One significant risk you may need to take note of is their driving habits.  You may start seeing dents or scratches on the car, piled up tickets, citations  etc. If you notice that they may be a danger to themselves and others on the road, have an evaluation done with their primary care doctor or with the driver’s licensing bureau in your province to make a recommendation whether it is safe for them to drive.  You should also take note of your home environment and make some small changes to ensure they are safe when they come over to visit.

Memory Loss

A significant sign that a loved one is suffering from memory loss is if they repeat the same information or stories over again in a short period of time.For example, you're may be having a nice dinner with your mother and engrossed in great conversation. She may ask what time dinner is and forget that she just finished a meal shortly prior. If she forgets different events within the last 24 hours, that's a concerning sign that your mother may need to seek medical attention from their doctor. If you find yourself in these types of conversations, gently go along with the conversation so they won’t feel embarrassed.

It’s important to avoid being quick to determine whether they have dementia or Alzheimer's.  Always seek an evaluation from a medical professional to determine their diagnosis. Also, take note of the side effects of their medication and get an opinion from their doctor to determine whether it may be contributing to their forgetfulness.  Try to be attentive to whether they can keep up  with a proper schedule throughout the day such as grocery shopping, doctors’ appointments, and paying bills.  If you notice that they are having trouble keeping up with daily tasks, ask if they need any assistance. 

Mental health struggles

Although dealing with mental health issues is common to all of us, your  loved ones can be hit the hardest during the holidays. One sign that you may notice is depression. You may notice that for some, they hardly ever leave the house.  This scenario is different if their friends went out of  town or had to be admitted to the hospital.  Another sing that a loved one is struggling with their mental health is they have started consuming more unhealthy foods than they normally might.  You may also notice that they may not be active in the faith communities and organizations that they once were. 

When your parents start to feel isolated, it can lead to deteriorated mental health. To help them, try to encourage them to go for light walks around the neighborhood or assist in baking some of their favorite recipes during the holidays.

Changing financial habits

Your parents might have been frugal about their spending when you were growing up but you may now notice they are starting to spend outside of their means.  They may always have had hearts of gold but, you may see large donations they cannot afford to different charities. 

We see many older adults loose track of their financial wellbeing as they age.  Part of this can be down to changes in their physical and mental health.  If you notice that this is something they are struggling with, it may be appropriate for you to have a sensitive conversation with them to try and understand the root cause of these changes. 

What Next?

If you see any of these 5 signs, there may be more to what’s going on with them that you may initially realize.  They may be feeling vulnerable and lonely and may need someone to talk to.  The answer, may, however be more involved than that. You may need to support them by introducing them to some senior living supports to maintain their health, safety, and wellbeing. 

How do you start that conversation?  Read the next article in our guide to help you approach that conversation with compassion and empathy.