The Little Signs That Your Elderly Parent Needs Help

Having aging parents is both a blessing and a curse. Naturally, you want to have your parents around for as long as possible. But it can be difficult to watch them age, and unavoidably degrade and lose some of their abilities. Besides the emotional involvement of suddenly having to care for your parents – whether you need to be a full-time care or to manage their living arrangements – , there is a much more urging matter. Indeed, elderly people may fail to notice that their health is degrading. As people age, they rapidly lose focus of their health to concentrate on everyday routines, such as their favorite TV show, the morning tea or even a sweet sugary treat before going to bed. But without any reference to health, they can become weak in front of your eyes without even noticing. It’s exactly why you need to pay attention to all the little signs that your elderly parent might show.

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#1. The TV Is Too Loud

When was the last time you’ve had a phone call with your elderly parent? If you’ve found yourself having to repeat constantly the same thing because they couldn’t hear you, it might be a sign of hearing issues. Although, before you rush to read all the latest hearing aid faq, you may want to check if this could be simply due to an old device. Seniors are, after all, not renowned for changing their tech devices as regularly as younger generations. You may want to investigate a little more, especially by checking how loud the TV generally is at your parents’ place. Old people tend not to notice that their hearing is getting worse, especially as all it takes is to turn the volume up. Additionally, there are other signs that can help you to notice the issue before it gets too late. For instance, you may find conversations difficult with your elderly parent. They may not ask you to repeat, but their answers might indicate that they didn’t hear you properly.   

 

#2. They Are Losing Weight

Appetite loss is a common issue with aging people. After all, they do need fewer calories, and consequently, it’s natural that their appetite is not the same than yours. However, there is a thin line between natural reduction of appetite and unhealthy behavior. There are many factors that can lead to eating less in seniors. They could be experiencing denture troubles, and consequently, might find it more difficult to eat. They might feel lonely and be lacking appetite as a result of their mental mood. They may even become forgetful and not notice that they haven’t eaten all day. Whatever the reasoning, you need to be very attentive to the first signs of weight loss. It is a difficult topic to discuss, but it can be helpful to first discuss the issue with a doctor, who can help you to identify the cause of their weight loss.

 

#3. They Become Very Clumsy

Everyone can have moments when they tripped on the carpet and fall. Even you. Or sometimes you accidentally drop a glass, and it breaks. So don’t get too nervous if it happens to your elderly parent too. However, if they fall a little too often, or things break too regularly, it might be a sign of something more serious than just clumsiness. The inner ear is responsible for your balance. The labyrinth of the ear contains many nerves and hairs that work together to coordinate your movement in space and against the pull of gravity. However, researchers have shown that the body starts losing nerves in the ear. This might result in a loss of balance. Eye problems such as cataract or glaucoma, which are common in old age, can also cause issues in moving in a room or seizing objects.  

 

#4. They Don’t Remember Where They’ve Put The Keys

Okay, the big worry about old age is Alzheimer’s disease or another case of dementia. There’s no denying that these diseases exist and are strongly related to memory loss. However, forgetfulness is not always a case of Alzheimer’s. Lack of attention or mild age-related memory loss is natural, and it isn’t anything that you should worry about. Serious memory loss, such as not being able to stick to the same routine activities or to form reasonable arguments, can be an indication of a deep loss of mental ability. Do pay close attention to your parent’s behavior, if you begin to suspect that they may be suffering from memory loss. Dementia doesn’t need to show its worst side for you to notice it. It can be little signs, such as mentioning a talk with someone who is already dead, or a sudden change of routine. If it is identified early enough, memory loss related diseases can be managed easily and successfully for a very long time.

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Guide to Broaching Difficult Subjects with Your Elderly Parent

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Raising difficult subjects with your elderly parent is never easy. You don’t want to upset them or make them feel incapable. However, if you have started to notice that your parent is not coping as well as they once used to, either mentally or physically, it is important to talk to them about it so that you can come up with a solution. Of course, you are worried that you will damage their self-esteem or wound their pride, but ensuring they are healthy is the most important thing. Plus, there are ways you can approach the subject in a gentler manner. With that in mind, read on to discover how to raise difficult issues with your elderly parent, as well as some of the topics you should be raising.  

What sort of issues should you discuss with your parent?

Before we reveal how to broach difficult topics with your parent, let’s first take a look at the different issues you should discuss with them.

  • Managing their affairs – You may want to consider a power of attorney if your parent has been ill or is finding it difficult to manage their own affairs. A lot of people assume that this is a step that is only taken when someone is not well enough to know their own mind. However, it can often be beneficial to discuss this before you reach that stage. There is two power of attorney options – finance and health. The former means managing financial affairs on their behalf, and health means making medical decisions on their behalf. If you have siblings, you should consider holding a joint power of attorney with them, as this can easily be a source of sibling conflict.
  • Your parent’s living arrangements – The time may have come to assess your parent’s living arrangements. Should they live with you? There is a lot to consider, including whether it is the right environment for them, if they want to live with you, if your home can be adapted if needed, if you have the time to assist them, and how it will impact your family life with your children and your relationship with your partner. You need to be honest with yourself – don’t make a decision out of guilt.
  • Whether they can live alone – If your parent cannot cope at home, it may be time to discuss either getting help at home or moving to an assisted living facility with experienced professionals that will give them the care they need to manage their health. This is important if your parent needs rehabilitative assistance, as well as if they are struggling to manage in their home, for example, if they find it difficult to move around, get showered, and get dressed, if they feel lonely and isolated, and if they are nervous about living alone.

How to raise difficult issues with your elderly parent

The issues mentioned above can be difficult to raise with your parent. You don’t want to risk offending them or making it feel like you are trying to take their independence away from them. However, it is important to broach these subjects for the sake of their health. So, how do you go about it? Here are some top tips to help you out:

  • Make sure the situation is a relaxing one – When you do bring up a difficult subject with your parent, you need to ensure that the situation is as relaxing as possible. It needs to be private enough for you to have a sensible conversation, so make sure your kids aren’t running in and out. Nonetheless, you don’t want your parents to feel pressured or worried; so don’t build it up into a big, serious event.
  • Be prepared to listen – You may think that you have it all planned in your head already, but it is important to listen to your parent and accept their point of view. It is their life after all.
  • Manage the process gradually – People do not like change, especially when they get older. This is why you need to manage this as a gradual process. Take things step-by-step.
  • Revisit conversations – As you need to handle things gradually, you need to be prepared to revisit conversations a number of times. Your parent must have time to think on their own about the suggestions you have made. Don’t expect an instant answer. People are less likely to respond positively when they feel like they are under pressure.
  • Think about your parent’s view before you have the conversation – Before you sit down to have a conversation with your parent, think about their likely viewpoint and possible objections. By planning this in advance, you will be able to answer them knowledgeable and calmly. You may even be shocked to learn that they have already thought about the issues you are raising, and they may have solutions that you had not thought about previously, so be prepared to listen to them.
  • Discuss the issues with your siblings and any other key family members – It is important to discuss the issues with your siblings and anyone else that is close to your parent. Don’t turn this into a huge family discussion. Your parent won’t want to feel like everyone has been discussing them behind their back. Only keep immediate family members involved. You need to ensure that you and your siblings are all on the same page before you discuss things with your parent. The last thing you want is a family dispute on top of everything else.

All in all, there is no denying that broaching subjects such as living arrangements and power of attorney can be extremely difficult. However, if you have reached the stage whereby your parent is struggling to cope, it is imperative to have such difficult chats with them. Instead of diving straight in, make sure you use the advice above. Plan for the talk carefully, make sure you are in agreement with your siblings and, most importantly, listen to what your parent has to say.

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