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How to recognise the signs and support them in their senior years.

Here is a guide for maintaining independent living for people with ageing parents.


Tips for maintaining independent living for people with ageing parents:

For many of us, the realisation that your parents are not as young as they used to be is a daunting one, and often one that we shy away from thinking about and addressing.

Maybe you’ve noticed that dad’s unopened mail is piling up. Or mum, once meticulous about her appearance, is wearing wrinkled clothes and not doing her hair quite as well as she used to. Perhaps they are becoming forgetful, or struggling with what used to be simple tasks. When you bring up the subject, you hear, “Everything is fine. There’s no need to worry.”

Admitting they need help would mean they can’t take care of themselves anymore, and no one wants to lose their independence. Denial is the unrealistic hope that a problem is not really happening and will go away by itself. Admitting they need help and accepting assistance is not easy for people as they age. It represents a loss of independence.

The responsibility often falls on the family to recognise the signs that an ageing parent might need help with daily living tasks. This doesn’t necessarily mean that your loved one has to go to assisted living or a nursing home, but they may need some extra help in their home. If they’re not willing to admit it, how can you tell if your ageing parents needs home care?

Here are 15 signs that may indicate your ageing parents needs help at home:

1.    Having falls at home or out and about – not as steady on their feet
2.    Spoiled food that doesn’t get thrown away
3.    Missing important appointments
4.    Unexplained bruising
5.    Trouble getting up from a seated position
6.    Difficulty with walking, balance and mobility
7.    Uncertainty and confusion when performing once-familiar tasks
8.    Forgetfulness
9.    Noticeable decline in grooming habits and personal care
10.    Dirty house, extreme clutter and dirty laundry piling up
11.    Stacks of unopened mail or an overflowing mailbox
12.    Late payment notices, bounced checks and calls from bill collectors
13.    Poor diet or weight loss
14.    Loss of interest in hobbies and activities
15.    Forgetting to take medications – or taking more than the prescribed dosage

So what is available to help? Mum and dad are adamant that they won’t leave the family home…
So you have seen a few of the ageing parents signs listed above, but what now? How do you know if home care is right for your parent? Home care is generally defined as non-medical support services delivered at the home of the senior and can be a vital step in maintaining independent living. The aim of home care is to allow mum or dad to remain at home longer rather than enter an assisted living community, nursing home or other type of senior care.

What services can your parent get from home care? Home care agencies help with any activities and needs that a person needs throughout the day. Services include:

Social: companionship and conversation, watch movies and play games

Around the House: grocery shopping, meal planning and preparation, light housekeeping, laundry, ironing and vacuuming, change linens and bed making, organize closets and pantries, general shopping, Wash dishes

Health & Hygiene: diet monitoring, medication reminders, pick-up prescriptions, hygiene assistance, including bathing and dressing

Admin: errands and transportation, help with bills and mail, Supervise home maintenance and repairs, help with correspondence, appointment reminders

How to start the conversation about home care

Now you’re sure the warning signs are there, the time to start talking with your parents is sooner rather than later – you don’t want to wait until after a crisis has occurred. But how do you bring up sensitive subjects related to aging, such as the need for home care? To overcome awkwardness, approach your parents with a conversation. Discuss what you’ve observed and ask your parents what they think is going on. If your parents acknowledge the situation, ask what they think would be good solutions. If your parents don’t recognize a problem, use concrete examples to support your case.

Remember you are talking to an adult, not a child. Patronizing speech or baby talk will put older adults on the defensive and convey a lack of respect for them. Put yourself in your parents’ shoes and think of how you would want to be addressed in the situation.

If fear of a fall or becoming well is a concern for your ageing parents then you may want to consider exploring a personal alarm, also known as medical alert systems or medical alarm pendants. Please see our Home Page for more information.