If there is one common sentiment that many adult children share when it comes to their parents, it’s worrying about them living safely at home alone.
If there is a second commonality, it may be wondering how to know when it’s time to consider a change.
Although not all variations in behavior mean that your parents should move, there are some universal signs you should watch for that indicate more help may be needed.
The best solutions are to keep the lines of communication open. Have ongoing discussions about how they feel about living at home or if they see any problems. It’s better to bring up issues as they occur rather than to have an intervention.
But if the following situations do appear, you’ll want to find out more information, including whether immediate action is needed or if there is time to come up with a plan together.
If your parents never liked cooking or shopping, this may not be such a change. But if they always kept a well-stocked pantry and prepared meals, yet now you notice little food in the house or it’s spoiled or expired, this is a sign that help is needed.
Look for possible reasons for this new behavior. Are they able to get to the grocery store easily? Are they still driving or have alternative transportation? Have they lost their appetite or are they no longer eating regular meals?
One sign that parents living alone may be struggling is observing stacks of mail left on a table that hasn’t been opened. If you begin seeing this in your parent’s house, chances are they are not paying their bills or possibly are unable to keep up with their finances.
You may want to ask them if you can help go through their mail and get everything caught up. If you find unpaid bills, late notices or unbalanced financial accounts, it’s time to address the situation.
Your parents may have always been comfortable with a little clutter or weren’t constantly cleaning or picking up, but if the condition of the house has changed, this can be a clear sign that help is needed.
Look for piles of unwashed laundry, stacks of newspapers or books or a sink full of dishes. Pay attention if the counters are cluttered and if things are left on the floor that can become a stumbling hazard and increase the risk of falling.
If you see your parents often, you may not immediately notice a change in weight but look for any signs that they appear smaller. This could be because they’re not able to shop for food or they feel uncomfortable cooking. Not having a good diet can quickly be detrimental to their health.
Are they taking care of their personal hygiene? This is often one of the first signs that help is needed. Are they brushing their teeth, taking a shower and keeping their clothes neat and clean? If not, what may be stopping them?
Do your parents seem more nervous or anxious when you visit them? Do they seem worried about keeping up the house? They may be concerned with their own safety when climbing the stairs or their spouse’s health.
Ask how things are going and if they could use a little more help. Parents often hide their concerns from their children – either because they don’t want to burden them or because they are afraid of what the consequences might be.
Once you’ve started noticing signs that your parents may be struggling living at home alone, there are steps you can take. Consider these suggestions:
Although it can be hard to face that your parents are growing older, it’s important to address any concerns. They likely have noticed the same things you have but may not want to face it or know how to ask for help.
Are your parents safe at home? If they are in danger of unintentionally setting a fire, falling or suffering a serious injury, you’ll need to take immediate action now. Otherwise, use this time to come up with a plan.
With any changes you notice, it’s important to pay attention to whether this behavior is new or the circumstance is out of character. You’ll also want to take note of whether this is a rare occurrence or is it becoming more of an ongoing situation?
There are no one-size-fits-all solutions but start brainstorming. Understand the situation and then consider options. Would it help to bring a housekeeping service a few times a month? Do they need help cooking meals or assistance with bathing or dressing?
You may find that your parent’s needs are expanding and exceed what any small changes might be able to bring about. Make a list of everything your parent needs help with, including bathing, dressing, grooming, preparing meals or managing medication. If the list is growing, moving to an assisted living community may be the right answer.
We understand the difficulty of both parents and their adult children when the subject is whether to continue to live at home. But often their changing health or other circumstances requires a move in order to keep them safe, happy and secure.
Our role is to support your loved one in living the best life possible. And we lend a helping hand whenever it’s needed. The residences, activities and amenities at Westminster at Lake Ridge Assisted Living are tailored to meet the preferences of our residents. And the benefits don’t stop there.
Your loved one will have privacy, assistance whenever needed, delicious chef-prepared meals and scheduled transportation. Your loved one will feel right at home in the spacious living suite with its own bathroom and large walk-in shower. And will soon be meeting and making new friends with our programs and social opportunities.
If you would like more information about assisted living, please download our free resource, Just the Facts: Your Guide to Assisted Living.
Please call (703) 420-7105 if you have any questions or would like to schedule a personalized tour today.