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Signs that your elderly parents need help

As our parents grow older, it is only natural that their memory may not be as it once was, concentration is lost now and then, and that they may become more frail.

 

It's vital to be able to spot signs that your elderly parents need help...

 

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

  • One in four Americans aged 65+ falls each year.

  • Every 11 seconds, an older adult is treated in the emergency room for a fall; every 19 minutes, an older adult dies from a fall.

  • Falls are the leading cause of fatal injury and the most common cause of nonfatal trauma-related hospital admissions among older adults.

  • Falls result in more than 2.8 million injuries treated in emergency departments annually, including over 800,000 hospitalizations and more than 27,000 deaths.

  • In 2014, the total cost of fall injuries was $31 billion.

  • The financial toll for older adult falls is expected to increase as the population ages and may reach $67.7 billion by 2020.

 

Falls, with or without injury, also carry a heavy quality of life impact. A growing number of older adults fear falling and, as a result, limit their activities and social engagements. This can result in further physical decline, depression, social isolation, and feelings of helplessness.

As we get older, our muscles, joints and bones change significantly. This means that our bones break more easily, we can’t move as quickly, or as well as we once did.

 

Normal day-to-day tasks become more difficult, tiring, or take a lot longer to do. If you notice signs that your elderly parent is having trouble moving about, it may because they are experiencing these changes. It is important that trip hazards are removed around the home and that care is taken.

 

A cluttered house which is usually clean and tidy

Considering the changes we face when ageing, day to day events like getting up and down the stairs can be tiring, and scary. It may be that your parent is keeping things close by for convenience. It will be difficult to vacuum, or do much housework; things will seem much heavier with muscle deterioration. Your elderly parent will tire easily trying to continue with day-to-day tasks that were once easy.

 

Changes in mood and activity

Mood variations are only to be expected. If a sadness, or tearfulness is persistent, accompanied with a lack of interest in usual activities, a cease in social activities, difficulty sleeping, or weight loss, then there is a good chance that these are signs of depression or anxiety which may be brought on by financial worries, loneliness, or coping with ageing.

 

Anger and aggressive behavior can be brought on by trying to cope with declining physical abilities and cognitive function causing frustration.

 

Changes in personal hygiene or appearance not maintained

Fear of slipping may cause your elderly parent to be afraid of using the bathroom – especially if they live alone. Showering and washing can also be a tiring task for them, it is perhaps a mix of the two.

It might be the case that they are struggling with money, and have cut down to save on the utility bills.

 

Changes in memory, concentration, or behavior

Most of us will experience deterioration in memory and concentration when aging; it’s natural and not necessarily an issue. Forgetfulness is completely normal.

 

You can use lists, notice boards, and reminders to help out. However, if this is progressively getting worse; they are unable to perform daily tasks, forget commonly known things, unable to follow a story, or instructions then it may be time to be checked out by the GP.

 

How to help

A home care service can provide drop-in safe and well visits, companionship, practical help around the home, and personal care.

Many children of elderly parents, especially if they live far away from them, find this a comfort and reassurance to know that there is support close by.