Are you concerned about the health of your aging parents? As they grow older, how can you assess how they’re doing – if they are able to successfully take care of themselves, to keep themselves healthy?
Take a trip to go see your parents if you can, and ask yourself the following questions:
How are they managing at taking care of themselves?
Note your parents’ appearance. Do they have clean clothes? Does it look like they are taking care of themselves? Are daily hygiene routines being taken care of? What about bathing, basic grooming and brushing teeth?
Is the home in good shape – lights working, heat on, bathrooms clean? Is the yard trim and in good shape? Check the fridge and cupboards. Is there an ample supply of food? How about containers in the fridge – are they fresh or full of mold? Burned pots lying around? House neglect is a sign of dementia or depression.
Are there any signs of memory loss?
A little bit of forgetfulness now and then is normal for almost everyone. A modest degree of memory problems can occur with aging or possibly as a side effect of medication. However, normal memory changes and the kinds of memory loss that result from Alzheimer’s or other dementias are very different.
Misplaced reading glasses or occasionally forgetting a doctor’s appointment aren’t as worrisome as your parent forgetting common everyday words when they are speaking, or getting lost when they are in a familiar neighborhood. Are they unable to follow directions? An evaluation with the doctor should be scheduled if you have concerns about the memory loss of either of your elderly parents.
Do your parents seem to be safe living in their own home?
Are there difficulties maneuvering around the home, such as not being able to navigate the stairs? Has either one experienced a fall recently? Can they read and follow instructions on their medicine bottles accurately? Are they regularly taking all medications and following doctor’s orders?
Do they remember to turn stove burners off? Can they access every room in their home?
How about driving? Are they safe to continue driving?
Do they become confused or anxious while driving? Are they able to get around safely to all the places they need to go – grocery shopping, doctor appointments, etc.? Can they take a bus if driving no longer remains a viable transportation choice? Is there someone who can drive them somewhere if required?