Are your parents getting older and you are wondering about their ability to take care of the family home on their own? Have you ever considered discussing with them the idea of moving into a retirement home or getting help at home?
Talking on the phone, Skype or FaceTime with your parents is good. However, it is probably during a visit to your parents’ home during the holiday season, a dinner or a weekend that you can really take the pulse and measure their level of well-being and quality of life.
Your parents must be included in the decision process
Choosing to get help at home with private home care services or choosing to live in a retirement home is not an easy conversation. Of course, there may be disagreements between you and your parents but do not wait until a crisis occurs to start the conversation.
Feel free to tell your parents that you care for them and want them to be well. This will surely help them understand why you are addressing these sensitive and intimate issues. Do not forget to let your parents express themselves and make suggestions. This is their future, they must feel that they are part of this decision.
When you visit your parents, there are several clues that will tell you that your parents do need help.
Are your parents aging? Is their house in order and well maintained?
Obviously, your parents’ house does not have to be flawless. Nevertheless, it is good to check if maintenance has decreased since your last visit. For example, does the pantry or refrigerator contain several stale foods? Is there an accumulation of garbage in the garage? These are signs that your parents may need help.
Do your parents have multiple unpaid bills and piles of unopened mail?
Your parents have always been well organized, but for some time now you have noticed that unopened mail is accumulating and several bills have not been paid; in short, an unusually messy environment. This behaviour can be a sign of cognitive problems or loss of vision for an elderly person.
Has the personal hygiene of your elderly parents changed for some time?
Are your parents still able to shower alone? You may notice that your mother needs help putting on makeup or that your father is no longer able to comb his hair. A hug can also reveal changes in hygiene. A bad body odour and a neglected appearance are signs that an older person may need help.
One of your parents suffered sudden weight loss
Do not overlook the fact that one of your parents has suffered a sudden weight loss. This may be a health problem. It is therefore important to consult a health professional. Weight gain or loss can also lead to mobility problems that limit the elderly ability to cook and take care of themselves.
Have you noticed damage to your parents’ car?
Minor damage to your parent’s vehicle such as small bumps, scratches, or a damaged bumper may indicate that they no longer have a good enough eyesight to drive safely.
Go for a car ride with your parents during your stay. You will be able to assess if they are still able to drive safely. But be careful, that does not mean they are no longer fit to drive. In fact, there is no consensus on this point. Sometimes, simple refresher courses may be considered for older drivers.
Have you noticed disturbing signs regarding your parents? If so, they probably need help.
If you notice disturbing signs, it is important to start the conversation. Your parents may need help. At this stage of their lives, private home care or moving to a retirement home may be worth considering.
Do not forget to take an emphatic and sensitive tone when talking about those topics that touch their intimate lives. Involve your parents in this discussion and, of course, in the decision that will follow.