Key Indicators to Knowing When Your Parents Need Help

Nothing is more important than ensuring your senior parents are in good health. But how do you know if they’re managing everything well enough? Most seniors have a strong willpower to remain independent and in control of their lives.

It’s hard when age sneaks up on someone. In fact, you may have just visited with your parents and found them to be quite normal, healthy, and active. However, aging is inevitable, and with it comes its own set of struggles. Normal, day-to-day tasks and routines suddenly become hard. Something that you may take for granted, or find easy to do on a daily basis, is a real struggle for your senior parents. And unless a traumatic or serious injury occurs, you’re not likely to know when, or if, it’s time to help.

Seniors don’t want to feel like a burden on you, or anyone else. So more often than not–they’re not going to tell you that they need help.

So how do you know when it’s time to step in?

For starters, you need to start monitoring your parents’ physical and mental abilities so you know the right cues to look for. Because the problems will not go away, you will need to act quickly.

Physical Cues

Some seniors have difficulty grocery shopping, cooking, eating, and even remembering to eat. If your parent is struggling with any of those simple tasks, you may notice a difference in their weight. Do they look thinner than usual? If so, they may need some help.

Weight loss isn’t the only physical indicator that your senior loved one needs help. Perhaps your parent’s appearance looks particularly sloppy. If so, they may be struggling with bathing, staying well groomed, or even getting dressed.

Lastly, do you notice anything unusual on your loved one’s body? Unexplained bruising may suggest they have fallen, struggle transferring from place to place, or are have trouble walking.

Some adult children also notice burn marks, indicating problems with cooking.

Hygiene Cues

As mentioned earlier, a sloppy appearance may suggest trouble bathing and grooming. However, you may not always be able to physically recognize proper hygiene. Foul smells may suggest that your senior loved one has incontinence, has trouble going to the bathroom, or eats poorly. Additionally, if your parent wears the same clothes over and over, they may need some intervention.

Home Maintenance Cues

For many, recognizing that your parent needs help may be as easy as pulling into their driveway and noticing that the yard upkeep isn’t how it normally is. Is the lawn mowed? Are the walkways cleared? Are the newspapers or mail piling up?

While many seniors want to retain their independence through completing these normal, everyday tasks, it often is a real struggle for them. Realizing that you can’t do something you used to be able to do is really disheartening.  

If the home is cluttered, unorganized, and dirty, that may be a cue suggesting they need help. Other signs throughout the home may be:

  • stains on the carpet (from dropping or spilling things)
  • burn marks on the pots and pans (forgetting the stove was on)
  • broken appliances (inability to repair)
  • spoiled food in the fridge
  • unexplained automobile dents/scratches (indicating impaired driving)
  • unopened mail/unpaid bills (difficulty completing regular tasks)
  • unfilled prescriptions


These are just a few of the cues to look for. Only you really know your parent, though, and you can usually tell when something is ‘off’.

Mental Cues

Aside from the other above-mentioned signs, your senior loved one may be suffering with mental abilities.

Mood swings, depression, forgetfulness, and confusion are all warning signs that your parent may be developing dementia or Alzheimer’s. Ask yourself the following questions to see if they are showing some warning signs:

  • Do they frequently forget their doctors appointment?
  • Have they lost interest in their favorite hobbies or activities?
  • Are they lacking the drive and motivation they normally have?
  • Are they constantly losing things around the house?
  • Do they lash out and become verbally or physically abusive?
  • Do they often repeat themselves, or struggle to complete a sentence?
  • Do they forget the names of close family/friends or objects?
  • Do their reasoning skills suffer?
  • Do they get lost while going for walks or driving somewhere?

Taking the Next Step

If you think your parents are struggling with one or more of the warning cues, then you need to discuss their care with them. When you do this, it’s important to be gentle and help them come up with solutions for their issues. Their health should be handled with intense care and sensitivity. Although it’s not easy, addressing the problem is vital and extremely important.

Just because your parent may need some help, doesn’t necessarily mean they need to move out of their home into a nursing home or assisted living center. Many seniors are still able to live comfortably at home with some in-home care. However, this burden usually falls upon the adult children, which can be very straining.

No matter your situation, Aegis Home Care and Hospice is able to provide you with all the support you and your loved ones need. You’ll be able to find the right care option to ensure your parents have a great quality of life, and you are at peace of mind knowing they’re in good hands. Contact us today to see how we can help you and your loved one.

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