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Aging Parents: Warning Signs of Health Problems

Have you been noticing a difference in your parents? Maybe mom looks like she lost weight. Maybe the last few times you’ve seen dad, he’s been wearing the same shirt, and you know it hasn’t been washed because of the same stain right down the middle.

Now sometimes losing weight can be normal, especially when we get older, and not throwing a shirt in the wash and wearing it over and over could be because it’s comfortable and you know you aren’t leaving the house.

However, the time may come to take a closer look into our parent’s or elderly loved one’s habits and determine if these changes are caused by an underlying health issue. Below we’ve highlighted a few signs that show when parents need help:

Eating: You’ve noticed some weight loss in your elderly loved one. This could be a sign they aren’t eating. There could be a few different reasons for this – maybe they are having trouble cooking and are unsure of what to make or cooking has just become too difficult. They might also be forgetting to eat which is definitely a sign they need you now more than ever. Ensuring they are staying hydrated is also imperative, especially during the summer months. Check their refrigerator regularly to ensure that the food is still good and has not expired, also watch what they buy at the grocery store and ensure that food is being eaten. Watch out for a consistently empty refrigerator.

Memory: Are your parents forgetting to eat? Or maybe they’re forgetting to take their regular medications and vitamins. They could also have started to miss several important doctors’ appointments. Whatever it is that they are forgetting, memory loss is a serious indication they need help. Forgetfulness could be an underlying issue of a medical condition or even dementia. To further understand and assess this, bring them to their doctor and explain their symptoms.

Mood: Everyone definitely has their good and bad days – we all are not in a good mood all the time. However, if you are starting to notice your parent’s mood is different, and they are always feeling unhappy or having a poor outlook, this could be a sign of depression. Another thing to watch out for in this instance is their social life. Have they decided to stop seeing friends completely or do they no longer want to leave the house? It is especially important to look out for depression in our elders who already have pre-existing health conditions. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, “Depression is more common in people who also have other illnesses (such as heart disease or cancer) or whose function becomes limited.” Paying attention to their moods can be so important in helping to keep our loved ones happy and healthy.

Hygiene: Pay attention to the hygiene of your parents. This can tell you if they are having trouble living on their own – it could even give you a heads-up on a more serious health condition. Watch out for continuously wearing the same clothing or consistently looking disheveled. Also, look around their home, are they cleaning regularly? Are they doing their laundry, washing the dishes, and taking out the trash? If many of these activities are not being done, then this is definitely a sign that your parents need you and they need help.

Noticing these warning signs can go a long way. We want our loved ones to be living a healthy lifestyle and make sure they are not developing depression or dementia or other serious health conditions. Sometimes our parents need us and they don’t know they need us, which is why we need to watch out for some of these signs. If you are noticing these things, try to address the problem with them and definitely mention it to their doctor. Above all, let’s continue to take care of our loved ones in the best way possible!

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