When you are the child of an aging parent, there may be a point in the future when you have to determine whether or not your parent can safely live alone. Ask yourself the following questions? Does my mother need additional help each day? Is my father comfortable living on his own? Does my mother need me to help her drive to appointments or take her grocery shopping? Has my father had any recent medical diagnoses that concern him or me with regard to his independence?
It is not always obvious when a parent needs daily help. This can be further complicated when you do not live in the same town as your parent. How do you learn that your parent may be having trouble? Do you have a relationship with your parent that allows you to ask questions regarding his or her wellbeing and know that you will receive an honest answer. How can you begin to identify if your parent may not be able to live independently anymore? Below are a few behavior patterns that you can be on the lookout for.
1. Your parent has become extremely forgetful.
We all forget things once and awhile. For instance, if your mom forgets where she placed keys, there may be no reason to worry. On the other hand, if your dad gets lost driving home there may be a real cause for concern. Other signs for concern may be if your parent consistently forgets to eat or maintain proper medication management. Keep an eye out for forgetfulness in your parent and know it is better to bring in a companion, or seek alternative living situations, too early rather than too late.
2. Your parent begins to neglect personal care.
If your parent is not showering daily or changing his or her clothes every day, it may not be a sign of laziness. In fact, it may be a sign of depreciating strength and continuous weakness. Personal care takes time and energy, and if your parent cannot complete these daily tasks it may mean he or she is too weak to care for him or herself.
3 Your parent has lost a significant amount of weight.
Similar to a lack of personal care, this may signify a decrease in strength that can highlight an underlying issue. It also may may suggest that your parent is too forgetful to eat or go to the grocery store. Ask your parent what has happened. Do not wait to go with him or her to the doctor to learn more or bring in assistance to help your parent with meals.
4. Your parent calls for help more frequently.
In the past, your parent may have called you to help pick up the yard after a storm or clean the gutters. When he or she begins to ask for help for easier tasks, such as getting the mail or reaching a specific shelf, it may be a sign that he or she is too tired to do it alone. Minute tasks can become quite difficult as we age, so keep an eye out for these instances and get help when it is needed if you cannot do it yourself.
We know it can be hard for both of you to accept that it is becoming harder for your parent to live independently. Most of us would prefer not to think about the long-term care challenges we could face in the future. If you have these questions, or any others, please do not hesitate to schedule a meeting.