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10 Signs Your Aging Parent May Need Help

Reference these 10 signs your aging parents may need help. Plus, what to do once you've established they need help.

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 what are the signs parents need more assistance – the kind best given through assisted living or a retirement community?

Here are ten signs your aging parents may need help:

  1. The yard and house aren’t being taken care of.
  2. The inside of the house becomes uncharacteristically cluttered, disorganized or dirty.
  3. There’s a stack of unpaid bills. (Learn about managing your parents’ finances.)
  4. They seem disheveled, or their hygiene has suffered.
  5. There’s a lack of fresh, healthy food in the house. (Read our Healthy Eating Guide for Older Adults.)
  6. There’s been a change in their general mood, or they’ve lost interest in hobbies and activities.
  7. They’ve been forgetting to take their medications or get prescriptions filled.
  8. You notice unexplained bruising, which could indicate they’ve been falling.
  9. They’ve become more forgetful, perhaps missing important appointments.
  10. They’ve noticeably gained or lost weight.

They Need Help – Now What?

If you think your parents need extra help, talk with your parents about senior living choices, about what you’re seeing and how it’s impacting their well-being. That’s not always an easy conversation to have. But experts recommend you talk with your parents before there’s a crisis. If you’re not sure where to begin, you can download these tips to help you get the conversation started.

Look to outside services.

Paying for yard work, 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.

If you’re seeing these signs your parents need assistance, take heart. You have a number of options for getting them 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.

Where You Live Matters is powered by the American Seniors Housing Association (ASHA), a respected voice in the senior housing industry. ASHA primarily focuses on legislative and regulatory advocacy, research, and educational opportunities and networking for senior living executives, so they can better understand the needs of older adults across the country.

Family Support in Graying Societies, Pew Research Center, 2015
What are the signs your aging parents need help? U.S. News & World Report, Feb. 9, 2018