The U.S. population is aging quickly. In fact, by 2050, the number of people that are 65 or older is expected to double. That means significant implications for our society and families. Many adult children are already helping their parents either financially or with other support. But how do you know when your parents need more help than you can provide? And how do you get them to accept that? While spending time with your parents over the holidays, it’s a good opportunity to look for signs that they need assistance—FirstLantic guides you on things to look for and how to approach a discussion that could be difficult.
- Watch for significant changes in behavior. Were your parents highly organized, and now you find bills piling up? Were they neat previously, and now the house has become a mess?
- Loss of interest in hobbies. Did your parent(s) love to watch tennis, play bridge, or garden, and they suddenly no longer have any interest?
- We’re not talking about small things but rather important things like getting lost in a parking lot or forgetting where to find everyday household items that have been in the same place forever.
- Mismanagement of medication. Are your parents refusing or completely forgetting to take their medication regularly?
- Complete disinterest in physical appearance. Was your mom the kind of person that always had her nails and hair done, and now she doesn’t seem to care?
- Extreme mood swings. Are you witnessing your dad getting extremely angry over things that would never have upset him previously?
- Weight loss or significant changes in diet. Have you noticed a substantial change in how your parent(s) eat, or are they not eating at all?
What to do next
If you are witnessing changes that are concerning, then you must broach the topic. But how do you have that conversation in a way that will not upset your parents? First, don’t lecture or treat them like a child. They are still your parents. Try to make this a two-way conversation and don’t take on a condescending or argumentative tone. Ask them if they have noticed changes or feel they could use some help around the house. Reassure them that drastic changes may not be necessary depending on the situation. It could be as simple as having someone come to their home a few times a week to help with minor household chores or providing transportation to and from appointments. Let them know how important they are to you and that you care about their health and safety. Reassure them that everyone needs help now and then, and there is nothing wrong with admitting that. They took terrific care of you, and you want to make sure that they are taken care of as well. Suggest discussing different services available with a professional, so they feel that they are a part of the decision-making process and control is not being taken away. For example, there are home health aids that can aid with services such as medication management, daily hygiene, dressing, and transportation to doctor’s appointments. And your parents can still live in the comfort of their own home.
However, if you don’t believe that your parents can live safely in their home, then a different discussion will have to take place. However, it would be best to still try to make this a conversation and not a lecture. Talk about options and suggest visiting a few places together. Assisted living is not a one size fits all approach, and there are many alternatives. Your parents can still maintain independence and have peace of mind knowing they have help if needed. There are placement services that are free of charge to help you find the right solution.
The bottom line is that if your parents need help, there are resources available, and you don’t need to find the solution alone. However, it would be best if you didn’t wait any longer than necessary to discuss, and it is preferable to do it in person.
If you need help right away, one of our expert senior living advisors can help. Call us at 954-807-1798 or click here.