Holidays, birthdays, and family milestones are a time for togetherness, when far-flung families gather in one place to celebrate. They’re also an opportunity for adult children to observe aging parents to see how they’re faring. Often, these gatherings are a wake-up call.
“Adult children may have noticed changes, subtle or stark, in the way their parents live,” says Rita Mabli, president and CEO of United Hebrew of New Rochelle, which provides an array of supportive care services to seniors including home care, assisted living, Alzheimer’s and dementia care, skilled nursing and rehabilitation. “After the holidays is a time when many families initiate conversations with their parents about their changing needs, having seen signs that they are not as independent as they once were.”
Adult children should consider the New Year as an opportunity to reflect on their observations, and act upon them, if necessary, advises Mabli.
Here are five signs that may indicate your parents need more care
- Physical changes: When you gave Dad a hug, did he seem thin or frail? Was it difficult for Mom to get in and out of a chair? Changes in appearance, in weight, personal hygiene, and mobility are sometimes the easiest to spot.
- A mail trail: Did you notice unopened mail lying around? Unpaid bills? This may signal growing forgetfulness, or worse, early onset dementia.
- Uncertainty behind the wheel: If you had a chance to run errands or go shopping with your parents, did you see slower reaction times, distraction, or nervousness? Was the car overdue for an oil change or were there new scratches or dents on the outside?
- Problems in the kitchen: Was there a lack of fresh fruits and vegetables in the refrigerator or multiples items of the same product in the pantry? Your parents may have become forgetful while shopping, or more physically challenged to cook the way they used to.
- Disarray at home: Did you notice a change in housekeeping, such as a build up of clutter or grime, plants or pets that don’t seem well-cared for, or things that need to be fixed? If so, it may signal a loss in mobility or memory.
If you checked off any or all of these items, what should you do? “Share your concerns and respectfully ask how you can help,” advises Mabli. “They may simply need help with grocery shopping, cooking, or managing their finances—or they may need to consider alternate living solutions. Either way, they will likely want to be as independent as possible in their decision making.”
Adult children may benefit from speaking with a senior care advisor to help them through the conversation and connect them with resources in the community. United Hebrew of New Rochelle’s eldercare experts can help families explore care options and plan for the future, before a crisis arises.
For more information, call 914-632-2804, x1148 to speak to Maria Hood.