Signs your parent needs care?

People standing around a table with turkey on it for thanksgiving

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! As we celebrate the season with holiday parties and family dinners, relatives from near and far will gather together around the dining room table. Many family members may not have seen each other for a while, including your elderly parent. From these events, you may see your parent’s behavior or health in a different light.

Perhaps your sibling, who doesn’t see mom as frequently as you, notices a significant change in her behavior. These changes can happen gradually over time, and you may not notice. Or perhaps you made the long trek home from another city to find dad much frailer than the last time you visited. Your parent might act differently in a noisy crowd than during a quiet visit in their home. Make a mental note of how your parent behaves during the holidays to determine how they are doing—physically and mentally.

There are a few signs that you and your family should be aware of, especially if your mom or dad is living on their own, to see if they might need assistance.

1. Weight Loss. When you hug mom, are you surprised that she has lost a significant amount of weight? Does your dad have no appetite and pushes food around his plate? Are their clothes too big? If you have noticed a substantial change in weight or poor eating habits, this could be a sign of a variety of conditions from poorly fitting dentures to a reduced sense of taste to a more significant health problem or loss of appetite from drug interactions.
2. Hearing Loss. Is your parent able to track a conversation or do they participate in a discussion? If they have hearing loss, they may choose to isolate themselves at a party because they are embarrassed. Hearing loss can lead to depression and loneliness if left untreated.
3. Disheveled Appearance. Does your dad come to a holiday event in dirty clothing without shaving? Does your mom, who dresses impeccably for every occasion, arrive without her hair combed or in an inappropriate outfit? This isn’t a matter of fashion but rather if they can take care of their basic needs like bathing, grooming, and doing laundry. And this sign could be indicative of other tasks that are too difficult for them—cooking, grocery shopping, managing their medications, etc.
4. Trouble Getting Out of a Chair. Does your parent struggle to get to their feet without help? Do you notice a loss of strength? This can be a sign that they are not getting enough exercise, a deterioration in their physical abilities, or a marker of an undetected disease or future disability.
5. Uncertainty and Confusion. Parties and events will take your parent out of their daily routine, and they can feel a little unsure or tired, which is normal. But if they are overwhelmed, extremely agitated, or confused about where they are or who others are, this behavior can be a sign of dementia.

At Aegis Living, we want your family to have a joyful, safe, and healthy holiday season. Enjoy your time together because these occasions are precious for your family. But keep in mind that your parent might be uncomfortable or too embarrassed to ask for help, so you will need to look for outward signs or changes in their behavior. We recommend that if you have any concerns about the health of your parent to make an appointment with their physician.

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