« Return to Ageless Advice

Caregiver RX

10 Signs Your Parents May Need Extra Help

pile of papers stacked

The goal is to help adult children evaluate their parents’ needs, and to give them ways those needs can be met.

I’ve been helping my folks out for a while. Nothing major – running a few errands, taking care of some laundry or fixing the leaky faucet. Lately, though, I’ve had to start doing more around their house because they’re not physically able to, and I’ve started cooking them meals because I’m concerned they’re not eating well. I’m starting to wonder if they need more help than I can give them.

More than half of adult children in America have helped their parents with housework, errands and home repairs. According to the Pew Research Center, about 52% of those with parents age 65 to 74, and 64% with parents 75 and older lend a hand because their parents need help. But where’s the line between needing a little assistance so they can stay in their homes longer and needing extra help – the kind best given through some form of senior living services?

10 Signs Your Parents May Need Help

Around the House

  • The yard and house aren’t being taken care of.
  • The inside of the house becomes uncharacteristically cluttered, disorganized or dirty.
  • There’s a stack of unpaid bills.


  • They seem disheveled, or their hygiene has suffered.
  • There’s a lack of fresh, healthy food in the house.
  • There’s been a change in their general mood, or they’ve lost interest in hobbies and activities.


  • They’ve been forgetting to take their medications or get prescriptions filled.
  • You notice unexplained bruising, which could indicate they’ve been falling.
  • They’ve become more forgetful, perhaps missing important appointments.
  • They’ve noticeably gained or lost weight.

They Need Help – Now What?
If you think your parents need extra help, talk with them about what you’re seeing and how it’s impacting their well-being. That’s not always an easy conversation to have. There are links at the end of this post to resources that can get you started.

You have a number of options for getting your parents the help they need so their health and happiness aren’t compromised. Work with your parents to find the solution that’s best suited to your family.

  • Look to outside services. Paying for yardwork, home repairs or housekeeping can relieve some of the physical burdens and hassles of homeownership. If a parent needs help with activities of daily living, such as dressing, bathing, grooming, etc., it’s possible to hire in-home aides, although this can get pricey over time. Community aging services, houses of worship and neighborhood groups also have services to assist with food, transportation, companionship, etc.
  • Involve the rest of the family. Many adult children provide a host of caregiving services for their parents. Perhaps you have siblings who can help, too. If you go this route, it’s important to have conversations with the family so expectations can be set for everyone.
  • Consider senior living options. Assisted living communities and Life Plan Communities (also known as continuing care retirement communities) offer maintenance-free living, nutritious dining options, interesting activities and programs, companionship and security. They also offer the level of daily assistance that’s needed, along with other health services. While they can be a good financial value overall, costs vary depending on the type and location of each community.

Here are some additional resources for you to use as you look for ways to support your parents and get them the loving, attentive care they deserve.

Have You Asked Your Aging Parents the Right Questions?
Is the Family Home Always the Best Choice?
Choose a Community or Live at Home?
Tips for Talking to Your Parents About Senior Living

Family Support in Graying Societies, Pew Research Center, 2014

Explore more Ageless Advice categories:

Caregiver RX

Practical advice and resources to help as you care for an aging loved one.

View all posts »