It can be difficult to consider, but it is likely that your parents may get to a point in their lives when they need help or support to continue living safely and comfortably in their own home.
So, how do you know when it is time? No-one knows your parents like you do, so something unusual for them may be normal in another home. It is helpful to know the common warning signs that may signal that your ageing parents could use a hand here or there.
The 12 Key signs
- They are becoming forgetful or confused
Are your parents becoming confused about things that were once simple to them? Or are they constantly losing or misplacing things?
- Missing important appointments
Are they regularly rescheduling missed appointments, or simply not showing up?
- Changes in mood or demeanour
Are your parents acting differently towards you or other people?
- They struggle to keep their yard clean
Is the yard becoming overgrown with weeds, or is the rubbish piling up outside?
- They mix up or forget to take medication
Unopened prescription medicines or unfilled scripts can be tell-tale signs. This is so important, as missing medications can sometimes lead to serious health consequences.
- They are less interested in things they previously enjoyed
Are they still doing and enjoying the things they used to love?
- Their home isn’t as clean and tidy as it once was
Is their home beginning to look and feel different, or even unrecognizable?
- They have a change in eating habits
Are they losing or putting on weight, and is there a lack of nutritious food in the house?
- They sleep more or have less energy
Have your parents’ energy levels diminished? Do they laugh and smile as often as they used to?
- They have difficulty with personal hygiene
Is there a problem with body odour, keeping toe or fingernails neat or bad breath?
- Mobility issues
Are they struggling to walk, sit or stand?
- Unexplained injuries
Have you noticed bruises, scratches or cuts appearing more frequently, with no explanation?
If you’re particularly worried that your parent is displaying early signs of dementia, take a look at the warning signs of dementia from Dementia Australia.
What you can do to help
- The first thing you should do is have an open, honest and caring conversation about it. Let your parents know that you want to help. Involve other close family members if you can.
- Next, make an appointment to go to the GP with your parents. There may be various treatment options available to help support your parents. Encourage regular medical check–ups.
- Address safety issues. If there are issues causing safety concerns, such as falls, forgetting to take medicines, forgetting to turn off the stove, not replacing the battery in smoke alarms etc, then these issues need to be addressed. Such things as installing rails, undertaking or arranging repairs, helping with maintenance, setting alarms for your parents to remind them of important tasks, can all assist.
- Have a discussion with your parents about Home Care. Encourage them to get an assessment via My Aged Care. Some older people are reluctant to accept external assistance as they feel they will lose their independence. Explain that in fact, the opposite is true. By accepting some help, it can help them to retain their independence and confidence to keep living safely at home.
Who can care if you can’t?
Many families find it hard to provide the appropriate amount of care for their parents themselves for a variety of reasons – geographic distance, caring for young children, work commitments to name a few. Home Care is designed to be there when you can’t be, so your parents can continue to live independently, happily and healthily in their own home.
Accept Care’s Home Care support can include a huge variety of services, such as shopping, cooking meals, assistance with personal care and daily living tasks, home maintenance, home nursing visits, transport and social supports as well as physio, massage, even coordinating hair and beauty visits, holidays and travel!
It is amazing how having a little help and support can restore confidence, independence, emotional well being and peace of mind – for your parents, and for you.
If you have noticed some of these signs with your parents, Accept Care can help. Contact us or call us on 08 8251 5186 to discuss how to have these difficult conversations, the steps to getting assessed, and the support available.