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How to know when your elderly parents need help at home?

How to know when your elderly parents need help at home?

How to know when your elderly parents need help at home

Things to look for and how to help your ageing parents

The holiday period is a wonderful opportunity to gather our family and friends together to celebrate, reminisce, and make new memories. For some families, it’s a chance to reunite with loved ones we haven’t seen for some time.

If it’s been a while since seeing your elderly parents, this Christmas might bring a tinge of worry among the joy. If you notice a decline in their health or capabilities but you know their independence is important to them, thinking about getting them some help can be hard.

So, let’s look at some signs that your beloved senior might need help at home.

They’re not as mobile as they once were

It’s confronting when you notice your elderly parents can’t move around as easily as they used to. Perhaps they’re taking longer to get in and out of a chair, or you can see them thinking harder about going up and down steps. Where once your Mum used to zip around the kitchen, and Dad would stride easily in and out of the house, now their steps are a bit shorter and less confident.

Among the causes for a loss of mobility are joint issues, reduced activity levels meaning less strength and fitness, pain, illness or neurological concerns.

Even just a slight reduction in mobility can impact your loved one’s mental health. They may become frustrated, find it harder to get out and about, or do the things they love doing. It can also put them at a higher risk for having a fall or they may start to have toileting issues.

What can you do?

Losses in mobility can have a spiral effect on your loved one’s quality of life. However, the good news is in-home services such as physiotherapy and occupational therapy can help to restore or maintain healthy movement.

Good nutrition doesn’t seem as important as it was

You might notice your elderly parents aren’t eating as well, or as much, as they were when you last saw them.

Perhaps their portion sizes are much smaller, their meals are infrequent, or they’re opting for easy microwave meals and sandwiches for dinner. Other tell-tale signs are a poorly stocked fridge or pantry, or showing less interest in food or mealtimes.

There're many reasons our seniors can lose interest in preparing regular nutritious meals for themselves. They may have a reduced appetite because of medication, pain, illness, lessened activity, or changes in hormones.

If they’re living on their own, your loved one might not feel motivated to prepare full meals for just themselves. Fatigue, a loss of mobility, or pain may also make cooking more difficult than before.

What can you do?

Making sure your elderly parents have the right nutrition to support their needs can be difficult to manage on your own. Consulting their GP and finding a nutritionist or dietician to support your senior could be the next best steps.

Little things are being forgotten

Sometimes we all forget where we put our phone or why we walked into a particular room, but when frequent losses of memory happen, it can be concerning.

Your loved one might keep forgetting where they put their glasses, repeating questions, or forgetting what they were saying mid-sentence. Perhaps they’re now struggling to remember names or faces of family and friends. Or more seriously, leaving appliances on, food on the stove, or their doors unlocked.

What can you do?

It’s important to first seek advice from their GP if you notice a decline in your loved one’s memory. Some in-home support for meal preparation, companionship, and putting safe routines in place could be helpful.

They seem flat and disinterested in life

Memory loss and reduced appetite could also be signs of depression, as can other physical symptoms like changes in weight, insomnia, or aches and pains. Changes in habits and behaviour, such as no longer enjoying their favourite activities, avoiding social gatherings or increasing their alcohol intake, can all point towards a decline in your loved one’s mental health.

With one in 10 older people suffering from depression in Australia each year, your loved one might need some extra support if these signs continue for two weeks or more.

What can you do?

As always, their GP will be an important first port-of-call for assessment. It can seem daunting to raise mental health concerns with your elderly parents, particularly if they’re not comfortable talking about it. Thankfully, there is a lot of information available on how to start these important conversations.

They’re not taking good care of themselves

It can be upsetting when your loved one’s standards in personal hygiene, outward appearance, or housekeeping seem to have dropped. If your Mum was always particular about her appearance, but no longer seems to care as much, or your Dad no longer has his daily ritual of a shave, these noticeable signs might show all is not well.

What can you do?

Pain, fatigue, mobility loss, mental health concerns, or decreased cognitive abilities could be among the causes. Getting advice and support to understand and address these reasons is vital for your parent’s wellbeing and your peace of mind.

We recommend starting with their GP, and then connecting with the appropriate allied service providers to improve your loved one’s lifestyle.

The benefits of getting help at home for your parents

It’s never easy watching your parents get older. While you care deeply about respecting their independence and dignity, you also know keeping them safe and healthy is just as important.

Getting help to manage their mobility, diet, safety, mental health, and personal care makes sense for the long term. By building a trusted network of professionals to help your loved ones, you know you’re doing all you can to support their wellbeing.

With some early support, you could help your parents to live well in their home for longer.

If you’d like to talk to our friendly and experienced team about the services available to support your loved ones, we can chat to you today on 1300 787 581.

Learn more: What I wish everyone knew about getting older

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