For those with ageing parents, Christmas can be the one time of the year where you spend extended amounts of time together. It’s during these visits that children can often worry about their parents and whether they are okay to stay living in their own home.
While it’s normal to worry about an ageing loved one, how do you tell the difference between someone who is just getting older and still coping quite well and someone who is really struggling.
These are the signs that your parent may be struggling at home:
Obvious weight loss or weight gain
A dramatic change in weight could indicate anything from an underlying medical condition to difficulty with buying and cooking healthy food. Weight loss could indicate that they are not eating enough, whereas weight gain could indicate they are experiencing memory loss and eating more meals than required.
If your loved one is having trouble getting around the house to complete routine tasks such as personal care or getting up and down the stairs, it’s an indication they may be having difficulty looking after themselves and may require some assistance.
Unopened mail or unpaid bills
If there is a lot of paper clutter around and you see either unopened mail or bills that are opened but don’t appear to be paid it can be a sign that your parent is having memory issues.
Spoilt or excess food in fridges and cupboards
A quick look in the fridge should reveal if your parent is coping with grocery shopping. Are there excess items of the same product? This could reveal they’re experiencing memory issues. Perishables past their expiration dates could also mean they’re buying too much or that they’re not eating as much as they used to.
Clutter and untidiness around the home
Particularly if your parent is known for being houseproud this can be an indication that they’re finding it difficult to pick up items and clean the house. Clutter can also be a tripping hazard which can be a problem, particularly for those with limited mobility.
Changes in behaviour
Has your parent given up activities that they used to enjoy? Are they showing signs of not leaving the house as much? Changes in behaviour may be revealed from talking to neighbours or other close friends who may have noticed changes on a day to day basis.
Signs of forgetfulness
We can all forget things, but increasing episodes of forgetfulness can indicate that your parent may be struggling. Are they forgetting regular household tasks like putting the bins out or are they having trouble remembering to take their medication on time? These are signs of cognitive decline that should be checked out by their GP.
What to do next
If you do see some of these signs and you are worried about your mum or dad, it might be time to have a conversation about your concerns and whether accessing home care could help them stay living at home.
Our article ‘What to do if your parent is struggling at home‘ also gives some advice and insights on your next steps. Getting help at home can be a positive step to empower your loved one to stay at home and keep living the way they want.