Not all adult children of aging parents live close by. In many cases, they’ve moved to new towns, or even different states, to pursue career goals and start their own families. That doesn’t mean they can’t take care of their aging parents.
The holiday season provides an excellent opportunity for kids who live far from their parents to visit home. During these visits, take the time to appreciate having a loving family, but don’t forget to look out for warning signs of trouble to come. Before getting on that bus, plane, or train, or jumping in the car for the long drive to a childhood home, read on to find out about the signs that a senior loved one may be struggling more than he or she lets on.
1. Unexpected or Extreme Weight Loss
Most people know that being overweight can place people at an elevated risk of developing many serious health conditions, including diabetes and cardiovascular disease. What fewer people know is that sudden, extreme, or unexplained weight loss can be just as serious of a problem, especially in the elderly.
Unexplained weight loss in seniors can be caused by physical, neurological, or mental health problems. Seniors often lose weight when they become depressed, which is a common response to ongoing isolation. They may become fatigued, which makes it harder to shop for and cook nutritious meals.
Neurological problems like dementia can have a similar effect, making it very difficult for seniors to maintain healthy diets. Finally, both medications and serious diseases like cancer can contribute to unintended weight loss. Make sure the affected senior schedules a doctor’s appointment and gets the care that he or she needs.
2. Reductions in Mobility
Reductions in mobility caused by balance issues, joint pain, frailty, or neurological problems can occur slowly or all at once. Staying active is an essential part of healthy aging, but when mobility problems arise, just getting around the house can feel like an impossible task.
Pay attention to how loved ones walk during visits home. If they seem unsteady on their feet or are experiencing gait changes or obvious pain, those are bad signs. It’s important to minimize fall risks. That may involve getting the afflicted parent medical help or physical therapy, making adjustments around the home, or encouraging the person to move to an assisted living apartment designed for the mobility-impaired.
3. Cognitive Changes
Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia don’t appear overnight. However, the signs of these serious neurological conditions can easily go unnoticed if family members don’t know what to look for. During the holidays, keep an eye out for signs of these worrisome cognitive changes:
- Memory loss
- Difficulty finding words
- Getting lost while driving
- Difficulty with problem-solving
- Trouble handling complex tasks
- Problems with organizing and planning
- Reductions in coordination and motor function
- Confusion and disorientation
People with dementia are also more prone to developing mood and behavioral issues. They can include depression, anxiety, lack of inhibition, paranoia, increased agitation, and inappropriate behaviors.
When these serious issues start to appear, it’s time to look into memory care providers. Dementia is a degenerative condition, which means it will only get worse over time, never better. Adult children of seniors suffering from dementia need to have a plan in place for keeping their loved ones safe and ensuring that they can maintain a high quality of life.
4. Changes in Home Maintenance
If their parents have always been conscientious about maintaining a spotlessly clean home, keeping the lawn cut short, and making sure that everything is organized and in good order, adult children visiting for the holidays may be surprised to find their childhood homes in a state of disrepair. Don’t write off the changes as indicating that parents are just sick of home maintenance. Issues like garbage piling up, lots of spoiled food in the cupboards or fridge, or home maintenance issues that go unaddressed should all be considered signs of trouble. It may be time to explore a move to a senior living apartment.
Is It Time to Make a Move?
Think it’s time for an aging parent to move to a safer and more comfortable environment? Most people respond better to this suggestion if their children can recommend a pleasant senior living arrangement.
Adult children who want their parents to have the best lives possible well into old age should check out the Gardens of Sun City Senior Living. We offer everything from comfortable independent living apartments to dementia care programs in a luxurious setting that includes all kinds of amenities. Browse our website to learn more or call (623) 933-2222 to schedule a tour of the best senior living community in Arizona.