10 Signs Your Aging Parent Needs Help

Life can get busy sometimes and force you to be geographically separated from your old folks. Like most adult children, living far away from your aging parents can lead to constant worry about their safety and health. It’s natural for your aging parent to experience age-related health changes. Coming to terms with the fact that the people who have selflessly taken care of you and supported you your whole life now need the exact help to care for themselves is not easy. Likewise, it is not easy for your aging parents to admit that they need help as they fear losing control over their lives, or worry about being a burden to family members. This should not stop you from offering a helping hand. Your next visit can be a valuable opportunity to determine whether your aging parents can manage on their own or if they might need assistance. It is possible not to notice anything out of the ordinary during your visit. But if you are keen enough, you might see worrisome clues of struggle and depression.

The big question is, how do I know if my aging parents need some extra help or support at home? Well, if you are asking yourself this same question, you are reading the right article. One thing is for sure; your aging parents would not be the ones to tell you they need help. This article has prepared a list of 10 signs your aging parent needs help. You should observe these signs a little more closely to gauge whether they could use some help.

How Do You Know That Your Aging Parent Is In Need Of Intervention?

  1. Mobility issues– as your parents grow older, moving around the house and the neighborhood can be difficult. If you notice difficulty in balance, walking and mobility, it is time you consider purchasing a mobility scooter for them. Things to look out for include falling or walking unsteadily even on level ground or being dizzy after walking for a few minutes. Falls can lead to broken bones and other complications if not taken care of.
  2. Piles of unopened personal mail, letters and bills – tasks like paying bills, doing tax returns, balancing checkbooks and budgeting can become challenging with old age. Sorting through several mails could also turn out to be difficult as it needs some organization and decision making. If you notice a stack of unopened mail left lying around or if your folks can’t pay household bills on time or at all, that could be a sign that they cannot handle basic tasks on their own.
  3. Poor personal care– if you look at your loved one closely, you may notice that they are not taking the same care in physical appearance as they previously did. Unkempt hair, lengthy or dirty nails, creased clothes, unpleasant body odors and food stains are major alarm bells that your folks are not as keen of their appearance as they were before. This can be a result of acute or chronic physical issues that minimize the ability to maintain physical hygiene.
  4. Decreased interest in handling household chores– if you notice a big change in the ability of your aging parent to keep their homes organized, you should be concerned. Such changes can include rotting food in the fridge, unwashed dishes, dirty laundry or a generally messy environment. They could be a red flag that some basic tasks like keeping the house neat are becoming a burden for them. Sudden lapses in housekeeping should especially worry you if your loved one has always been neat. A cluttered or disorganized home poses many risks like pest infestation, fires and fall hazards.
  5. Lack of home maintenance– some older citizens are handy and handling simple home repairs and maintenance is not a problem for them. If you notice a household repair that your parent would usually handle themselves is just lying there unattended, that could be a sign that your loved one is no longer capable of maintaining the home on their own. Also look out for lawns that are not mowed and trash that hasn’t been disposed of.
  6. Becoming less interested in hobbies and social activities– everyone, including older citizens, has something they like to do during their free time. If you discover that your loved is reluctant to leave the house to attend clubs or go out with their friends, this is a good sign that their mental state is not like it used to be. Isolation and loneliness increase with a decline in physical and psychological health. Decreased interest in the outside world is not something that should be ignored as it could be an indication of severe conditions like depression.
  7. Forgetfulness– we live in a chaotic industrialized world where forgetting a thing or two is normal. It is however different when your parents forget vital things like names of close family members, doctor’s appointments or not being able to locate the bathroom. If your aging parents exhibits signs like losing track of medications and making costly mistakes that could pose serious health conditions that is a clear sign that they need help. Forgetfulness could be something a primary care physician could easily fix. If not taken care of, it can pose real safety and health concerns.
  8. Gaining and losing weight– physical changes is another sign you should look out for in your next visit. These two physical changes could be attributed to eating fast foods instead of nutritious meals or poor eating habits. Nutrition is a major issue facing senior citizens. Shopping for and cooking a nutritionally-rich meal can be expensive and physically taxing. Whatever the case, it is now your responsibility to ensure that your aging parents eat and drink healthy meals.
  9. Unexplained dents and scratches on the car– at some point in your life, you might have concerns that your aging parents are no longer able to drive themselves. A person’s age is not reason enough to deny them the right to drive. There are many senior citizens with valid licenses, and they can drive safely. Others, however, are a danger to themselves and others when left to drive. If you notice dents, the chances are that their ability to hear, see or physically move has declined. You can occasionally take a ride with your aging parent to see how they are driving. Signs of impaired driving include slow reaction time, tailgating, and confusing brake and gas pedals.
  10. Signs of depression– reasons for depression in senior citizens are varied. Your loved one can be depressed due to a recent loss of a spouse, dealing with loneliness, loss of occupation or even coping with aging itself. Signs to look out for include trouble sleeping, sudden weight loss, constant sadness, loss of appetite, and suicidal thoughts.

What to Do If You Suspect Your Aging Parent Needs Help

At first, suggesting the idea of elderly care might feel awkward. Resistance to any type of change among the elderly is nothing new or strange. Your folks will most probably be hesitant to give up on their independence. While not a walk in the park, having this conversation will ensure that the needs of your aging parents are addressed while their wishes are respected go the letter. You will be surprised how they react to news that you are willing to help them resolve the difficulties they are going through. Getting your aging parents the help they desperately need will assist them to stay independent for extended periods and to avoid health issues and avoidable accidents in the foreseeable future. As they grow older, your parents won’t be able to do everything they used to do. But this doesn’t mean that they cannot stay at home. With a little assistance, your folks will be able to stay at home comfortably and safely. In severe instances, you can arrange help in nursing homes and assisted facilities.


We live in a society where we rarely see or address issues that are in front of us. We tend to deal with issues when they are already too big or complicated. It doesn’t have to be that way. Changes in your aging parent’s mental and physical health can worsen gradually and are not noticeable immediately. The above 10 signs your aging parent needs help will help you to detect changes in your loved one’s physical and mental health, living conditions and general attitude towards life early. Noticing these changes in time will guide you in making the right decision.

Need more help? Check out our Caring For Elderly Parents Checklist!

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