Do you often find yourself worrying about your aging parents living on their own? It’s natural to feel concerned, even if you’re doing everything you can to support them from afar.
As our parents get older, it’s common for them to want to maintain their independence and continue living in their own homes. However, it’s equally important to keep an eye out for signs that they may be struggling to manage on their own.
In this blog, we’ll explore some of the challenges that aging parents face when living alone, and offer some tips on how to help them maintain their quality of life.
Changes in Physical Ability
One of the first things to look out for is changes in your parent’s physical ability. As we age, our bodies become weaker, and it can become challenging to do everyday tasks. For example, your parents may struggle to climb stairs, walk long distances or do household chores. It’s important to pay attention to any changes in their physical ability and offer assistance if necessary.
Forgetfulness and Confusion
Mild changes in memory and other cognitive skills are common as we age. For example, brief lapses in memory or attention—such as misplacing car keys or forgetting someone’s name—are usually not cause for concern. On the other hand, getting lost in familiar places, regularly burning food due to forgetting to turn off the stove, or being unable to recall recent conversations could be signs of a more significant problem.
These are common signs of cognitive decline and can be a symptom of more serious conditions such as Alzheimer’s or dementia. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, “If you notice any of the 10 warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease in yourself or someone you know, schedule an appointment with your doctor. An early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s provides a range of benefits for the individuals who are diagnosed.”
Neglected Personal Hygiene
Another sign to look out for is a decline in personal hygiene. Your parents may be neglecting their personal hygiene because they are struggling with mobility issues or because they are depressed. It’s important to have an open and honest conversation with your parents about their personal hygiene, and offer assistance if necessary.
According to the American Psychological Association, “Loneliness has been found to raise levels of stress, impede sleep and, in turn, harm the body. Loneliness can also augment depression or anxiety.” Therefore, it’s essential to encourage your parents to participate in social activities and maintain regular contact with friends and family members. By doing so, you can help your parents feel more connected and supported, which can lead to improved overall well-being and quality of life.
Neglected Home Maintenance
It’s important to be mindful of any neglected home maintenance when checking in on your aging parents. They may be struggling to keep up with household chores, such as cleaning, cooking, or yard work. Neglected home maintenance can also pose a safety hazard, so it’s crucial to address any issues as soon as possible. By identifying and addressing these concerns, you can help ensure that your parents’ living environment remains safe and comfortable, which can improve their overall quality of life.
The National Institute on Aging emphasizes that there are many things we can do to help our aging parents maintain their independence and enjoy their golden years. By staying proactive, we can help our parents lead fulfilling lives and remain an integral part of our families for years to come.
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