8 Health Red Flags to Watch for In Aging Parents

By: | Tags: , | Comments: 0 | August 24th, 2015

It is not uncommon to feel concerned about the wellness of aging parents. However, it can be difficult to determine which signs of aging are typical and customary, versus those that are symptoms of a more complicated issue.  It is important to be aware of indications relating to physician impairments, elderly depression, and signs of dementia symptoms, among other issues.

To determine if your parents are able to appropriately care for themselves, maintain a healthy lifestyle, and are exhibiting typical signs of aging, reference this list. During visits or while caring for elderly parents, observe their behavior and surroundings for any signs alluding to the presence of an issue needing further treatment, assistance, or attention.

1. Neglected Self-Care

A helpful indicator of how elderly parents are doing is monitoring his or her physical appearance. Pay particular attention to components of standard daily routines, like hair combing, teeth brushing, bathing, and changing clothes.

2. Unusual Occurrences at Home

With respect to the type of household behavior elderly parents typically demonstrate, pay attention to how they are continuing to manage their home. If historically tidy parents begin to show signs of sloppiness, or if you notice overgrown grass, burnt pots and pans, or a pattern of overdue bills, it may be an indication that issues are arising.

3. Exaggerated Forgetfulness or Memory Loss

Gradual memory problems are typical in aging, and everyone has momentary forgetfulness. However, there is a difference between normal changes in memory and a progression that indicates dementia. Misplaced keys and failing to return calls may be typical, however, instances of getting lost in a familiar place or being unable to recall common names or words may illustrate something more significant.

4. Confused or Unsafe Driving

Failing to observe common traffic laws, or becoming disoriented in a well-known place, are indications that driving may no longer be a safe activity.

5. Losing Weight

If your elderly parents appear to have dropped weight, or his or her physician has commented on their weight loss, it may be a sign that something is wrong. Weight loss may point to a variety of things, all of which should be inspected for viability. The actual process of cooking may be the complication, as everything from going grocery shopping to holding cooking tools could be problematic. Additionally, forgetting to eat, or forgetting to shop may be facilitating weight loss. However, losing both taste and smell occur with ageing, and weight loss may also be caused by a general lack of appetite or interest in food.

6. Abnormal Mood or Behaviors

If a good-natured parent suddenly seems to be acting strangely, or if a sudden shift in attitude has occurred, it may indicate health concerns.

7. Sudden Inactivity or Lack of Interest in Socializing

If parents who have had long term friendships, hobbies, or activities suddenly lose interest, it may indicate present challenges. Staying involved in friendships, clubs, and organizations is an important part of healthy aging, and sudden disinterest may point to a problem.

8. Impaired Physical Mobility

If an agile and functional parent suddenly begins demonstrating problems with walking, unsteady gait, or suffering repeated falls, it indicates a dangerous situation. While there may be a physical complication present, general joint pain and general weakness is a complication of aging. Regardless of the cause, customized safety measures will need to be taken as severity increases.

If you feel that your parent is struggling with any of these issues, the most effective tactic to pursue is scheduling an appointment with your parent’s physician, a mental health practitioner, or a geriatric care manager. A professional will be able to evaluate your parent and make treatment recommendations, action plans, and provide senior resources.

Let us know in the comments below other red flags you may have encountered with your parents.

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