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Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Spotting Health Warning Signs in Your Aging Parents

Aging is a part of life, and although it might be difficult, it’s important to take note of the impact it’s having on your parents’ lives. Perhaps the best service you can do for them is to look out for their health and well-being as they get older.

If you’ve noticed certain changes in your elderly parents but can’t decipher whether they’re due to aging or declining health; you’re not alone. This is a typical situation facing those with elderly relatives. Diagnosing a problem can be tricky without being intrusive or insulting.

There are certain indicators that you may notice in your parent’s behavior which can signify mental or physical health problems.

Here are seven warning signs to look out for, as well as some resources to help you get through potential issues.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels.

Struggling to maintain their home
If your parents are unable to keep up with routine cleaning, waste disposal, and mail, this may be a sign of deteriorating health. Household chores are necessary to live a healthy lifestyle, and regular upkeep should be maintained.

Not taking their medication
Failing to take medication at their regular time, or failing to collect a prescription is a sign of health neglect. Whether intentional or accidental, this is a significant warning sign.

Memory loss
Everyone forgets things, even really important things, so some memory loss is normal. A certain amount of forgetfulness is common as people age. However, it can also be a sign of dementia or Alzheimer’s. Some of the more concerning forms of memory loss are:

  • Forgetting close friends’ or family members’ faces and names.
  • Being confused as to where large chunks of the day have gone.
  • Being unable to follow instructions or directions.
  • Becoming lost in familiar places.
  • Constantly repeating themselves.

Erratic behavior
Behavioral and personality changes are common traits in people with dementia and Alzheimer’s. Watch out for your parents’ ability to focus, their attention span, their motivation, or their politeness.

Poor hygiene
Poor hygiene is common with mentally ill people. Whether they lack motivation or don’t have the capacity to look after themselves, poor hygiene shouldn’t be overlooked as a health warning sign.

Weight loss or gain
Weight loss can be a part of aging, but a sudden loss can indicate atrophy, illness or malnutrition. Rapid weight loss should be acted on swiftly in elderly people.

Disruption to routine
If your parents are unable to continue their daily routines or their typical behavior has changed, this may be due to declining health. Mental and physical illness can be contributors to this so ensure that a doctor is consulted.

What you can do
Serious mental or physical illnesses require extensive treatment. If your parent is no longer able to look after themselves, consider hiring in home care services. Professional care in the comfort of their own home might be the best option, as it allows them to regain health without losing their sense of self.

Doctors should be a constant source of information and advice for all medical-related issues.

Keep in constant communication with your parent(s). Understand their perspective and respect their opinion.

Finally, be there for your parents, but recognize that you can’t do it alone. Burning yourself out won’t help anyone.
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