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Some subtle signs that may indicate your parent needs help at home:

  • Spoiled food that doesn’t get thrown away
  • Check the refrigerator for expired food, grime and mold
  • Multiple jars of the same food in varying states
  • Weight Loss
  • Pots that are burned on the bottoms
  • Food that has been left out
  • Missing important appointments
  • Unexplained bruising
  • Trouble getting up from a seated position
  • Difficulty with walking, balance and mobility
  • Uncertainty and confusion when performing once-familiar tasks
  • Forgetfulness
  • Odd Conversations
  • Acting a little paranoid
  • Unusual fears
  • Nervousness
  • Mom and Dad cover for each other, fill in the gaps
  • Unpleasant body odor
  • Infrequent showering and bathing
  • Clothes have an odor
  • Strong smell of urine in the house
  • Noticeable decline in grooming habits and personal care
  • Dirty house, extreme clutter and dirty laundry piling up
  • Carpet Stains in a normally clean house
  • The yard is not being maintained
  • Holding on to walls or furniture as they walk
  • Stacks of unopened mail or an overflowing mailbox
  • Late payment notices, bounced checks and calls from bill collectors
  • Poor diet or weight loss
  • Loss of interest in hobbies and activities
  • Changes in mood or extreme mood swings
  • Forgetting to take medications – or taking more than the prescribed dosage
  • Frequently misplaces things
  • Diagnosis of dementia or early onset Alzheimer’s
  • Depression
  • Unexplained dents, scratches or dings on the car

Your aging parents will be able to hold it together for short periods of time.  A few hours or even a day is usual.  They will be able to carry on general conversations and even act appropriately.  Don’t pepper them with questions, right now just observe and make notes.  The goal will be in talking with them that they themselves identify the problem and come up with solutions. Your job is to gently guide, listen, understand and help them meet their needs.