How Do I Know When My Elderly Parent Needs Help?


As we grow old and move on with our lives, we tend to forget that our parents are aging with us as well. It can be hard to comprehend on both ends that your senior parents need help in their daily lives. Most elders either don't recognize that they keep falling behind in their routines or are too stubborn to voice it to their children. That’s why you need to know when your elderly parents need help.

There are different signs to look out for when you’re concerned about your parents. These signs include a lack of personal hygiene, a lack of care for cleanliness, changes in appetite and behavior, and increased occurrences of sickness.

Below, we’ll talk about the signs you should look out for when you’re concerned that your parents aren’t doing well. We’ll also dive into the reasons behind those signs, so keep reading.

Signs Your Elderly Parents Need Help

Here are the signs you need to look out for:

1. They Have Issues With Personal Care

You might notice that your parents are not taking care of themselves the way they used to. They might look and smell funny, they might not change their clothes often, and they might stop getting their hair cut. There can also be definitive changes in their eating habits.

Parents who once took daily showers might start to skip showers altogether. This can be a sign that they are having difficulty moving around or are fearful of falling in the bathroom – a common fear among seniors.

Your elderly parents may stop changing their clothing often too. This may be because they get tired frequently. Seniors are also prone to having shoulder-related issues often, which may cause pain when trying to change clothes.

Another sign that your parents are not taking care of their personal needs is their appetite. You might notice that your parent, who loved to cook fresh meals and eat on time, is now skipping meals.

They might not have fresh ingredients in their fridge anymore. While having a conversation with them, you may notice that they’re anxious about cooking and prefer boxed meals. This shift in food-related attitudes can tell us that they may be struggling to provide for themselves.

Old Man Eating on Bowl

2. They Can’t Keep Up With Household Chores

If you notice that the home your parents live in is not the same as it used to be, it could be a sign that they need help. Their house may be dirty or poorly cleaned. Look to see if you find any broken appliances that need to get fixed or other things that have been left unattended.

If your parents were particularly clean and organized around the house, this is a pretty evident sign, and there can be a few reasons why this is happening.

They might be struggling with vision loss, causing them to miss spots when cleaning. Back pain can also be a big reason behind your elderly parents not picking up clutter from the floor. With issues like these, moving around the house can become a chore in itself, forcing your parents to avoid it altogether.

3. They Don’t Socialize Often

Were your parents particularly social throughout their lives? If so, take notice of whether their socialization habits have changed. Have they been absent lately? Are they going out often? Do they talk to their friends and family regularly?

If you notice a decline in socialization, your elderly parents need help. This decline can be due to many reasons, but namely, seniors find it hard to express their feelings to others, causing them to feel lonely.

Luckily, you can help your parent feel less lonely by reaching out to them often. Try introducing them to apps such as Ohana, which are designed specifically for seniors. Since technology can get overwhelming for elders, apps like Ohana are convenient to use.

4. They Are Exhibiting Signs Of Depression

If your parents are showing signs of depression, they definitely need help. Unfortunately, depression is quite common in the elderly, especially those who live alone and far from family.

Knowing how to spot the signs of depression is essential if you wish to get help for your parents. Here are the most common signs:

  • Agitation
  • Paranoia
  • Loss of interest in hobbies
  • Disturbed sleeping patterns

5. They’re Getting Sick Often

Have you noticed bruises and wounds on your senior parent’s body that they couldn’t remember getting? Bruises of unknown origin could be a sign of your parent needing help. Similarly, if your parents are falling sick more than usual, you must get them checked by a healthcare professional.

While this seems intuitive, it’s a bit hard to do because parents tend to hide feelings of sickness from their children. Most parents don’t want to worry their children, so they may avoid telling you about their illness.

Hence, you need to pay more attention to your parents so you can pick up on when they’re sick, even if they don’t tell you.

6. Their Memory Is Getting Bad

This is another sign that seems pretty obvious but doesn’t get picked on until it’s too late. You need to be attentive to your parent’s memories and note how often they forget things. This is especially important if your family has a history of illnesses such as Alzheimer's.

Are your parents more forgetful? Do they forget to take their medications? Maybe they can’t remember when they last ate? For healthy young adults, this doesn’t seem like a big deal, but for your elderly parents, it could be.

Final Thoughts

As your parents get older, they might need more assistance in daily life, but they may not voice this need. To determine if your elderly parent needs your help, make a conscious effort to note their behavior.

Observe their hygiene, the condition of their house, and their eating habits to determine if they can take care of themselves or not. You can also lookout for any changes in their personalities, such as increased irritability.

Having an elderly parent can be scary. Your parents are aging, which brings with it a bunch of concerns. Luckily, you can help with any problems they may be having; just keep an eye out to spot when they may need your help.