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What Signs to Look Out for When Visiting Mom & Dad

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A senior man and his daughter, smiling and looking through photo album together at home.

Cherishing time with your parents becomes increasingly important as they age and start thinking about making the transition to a senior living community. Visiting them can be a heartwarming experience filled with laughter and joy.

Visiting senior parents can also be an opportunity to observe their well-being and look for signs indicating they might need extra care or assistance. Some of the potential warning signs to look for when you’re visiting your senior parents include:

  • Physical health changes
  • Emotional changes
  • Cognitive changes
  • Home environment issues
  • Medication management challenges
  • Financial well-being challenges

As adult children of older parents, having a positive, understanding, and empathetic approach to spending time with them can help you provide your parents with the love and support they deserve while helping maintain their dignity and independence.

Physical Health Changes

It can be hard to know of any physical changes if you live far away from your aging parents or only speak over the phone. So when visiting parents, you can pay close attention to their physical health. 

Signs to be vigilant about can include mobility, balance, and posture changes. Do they have difficulty walking? Do they seem to have balance issues? 

Has there been a sudden weight change or loss of appetite? Unintentional weight loss could be related to several issues. If you notice any of these signs, approach the topic gently and encourage them to seek medical advice or accompany them to regular medical checkups. 

Emotional Changes

Emotional well-being is just as important as physical health. Keep an eye on your parents’ emotional state during your visit. Are they still engaged in activities they used to enjoy, or do they seem disinterested and withdrawn? 

Many people can confuse depression with normal aging. Look for signs of loneliness, social isolation, and spending more time alone, as these could be signs of depression. A drastic change in their mood could also be a sign of depression, such as:

  • Persistent sad, anxious moods
  • Feelings of hopelessness or helplessness
  • Irritability or restlessness
  • Decreased energy 
  • Moving or talking more slowly
  • Difficulty sleeping or oversleeping

Engage in open and supportive conversations with your parents and encourage them to share their feelings and concerns. Sometimes, a listening ear and reassurance are the first things they need.

Cognitive Changes

Memory lapses and cognitive changes can be a natural part of the aging process, but it’s essential to monitor these changes during your visits. Observe their hygiene habits, as neglecting grooming could indicate potential health issues or cognitive decline. 

Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia can lead to the following signs of cognitive decline:

  • Forgetfulness
  • Confusion
  • Asking the same questions over and over again
  • Getting lost in familiar places
  • Not being able to follow instructions
  • Becoming confused about time, people, and places

Be patient and understanding during conversations, and avoid belittling or correcting your parents if they make mistakes. Instead, gently assist and encourage them. If you have concerns about their cognitive abilities, consider discussing them with their healthcare provider.

A senior woman with her daughter sitting on the couch, smiling and hugging each other.

Home Environment Issues

A clean, organized, and safe home environment is essential for aging parents. During your visit, assess their living conditions. Are there signs of self-neglect that might pose risks to their safety? 

Home environment warning signs can include the following:

  • Hoarding
  • Leaving a stove on
  • Poor hygiene
  • Wearing unsuitable clothing for the weather
  • Confusion
  • Unkempt environments
  • Dehydration

Check for hazards and address any safety issues to prevent falls and injuries. Offer your help with decluttering and organizing, and if needed, discuss the possibility of hiring a caregiver or seeking other forms of support for daily living

Medication Management Challenges

Proper medication management can be crucial for older adults with health challenges and multiple prescriptions. If you’re particularly concerned about your parent’s needs, you may want to help them review their medications and medication management plans. 

Look for any signs of overmedication or adverse reactions. Consider helping them organize their medications in a pill dispenser or setting up a reminder system to help them stay on track. If you notice any concerns, it may be helpful to consult a healthcare provider to check that their medication regimen is appropriate.

Financial Well-Being Challenges

Financial management can become challenging for aging adults, especially those experiencing challenges related to cognitive decline. You may find it beneficial to help your parents assess their financial situation and look for any signs of financial mismanagement, such as unpaid bills or unusual spending habits. 

Offer to assist them in organizing their finances or consider involving a trusted family member or financial advisor to help them make informed decisions.

Customized Lifestyle Options for Seniors

Visits with older parents are a precious time to connect, cherish memories, and offer support. By approaching this responsibility with patience, understanding, and empathy, you can help them feel loved and respected while looking out for their well-being. 

When you notice signs that your parents need extra care or assistance, it can be helpful to proactively address those issues. In some cases, further support for daily living might be the right choice. 

At Parsons House La Porte, our goal is to help make older adults’ lives better by offering personalized care programs tailored to individual needs. Contact us to schedule a tour or learn more about how we can help.

Written by Parsons House La Porte

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