It can be difficult to know if your parents or relatives are not coping well at home. But there are a few tell-tale signs to keep an eye out for.
The earlier that you can spot your parents need more help at home, the better. Read our caring for elderly parents checklist of 8 questions to consider before you talk with them directly.
These can be a tricky series of conversations.
1. Are my parents looking after themselves?
Are your parents or relatives struggling to look after themselves and their home? Perhaps the post is piling up, laundry isn’t getting done and that once-spotless kitchen is looking grubby.
2. Are they eating regular meals?
Check the fridge to make sure food is fresh and that there are enough supplies to suggest that they are eating regular meals. Are they able to cook or heat food and handle the kettle safely?
3. Can they wash, bathe and shower?
Are they wearing clean clothes and do they appear to be looking after themselves – hair, shaving, teeth? Can they still bath/shower without help/aids?
You might be able to spot the signs but equally they might be too embarrassed to discuss personal hygience. Try and be sensitive and talk about the practical difficulties of reduced mobility and need for extra help such as grab rails in the bathroom.
4. Are the bills being paid?
Are the bills getting paid, or are there reminders in the post? If you are able to look at a bank statement, does it look like their spending patterns have changed?
5. Is a health condition affecting life?
Has mum or dad recently been diagnosed with a health condition that may make life more difficult? A physically challenging condition, such as arthritis, means they won’t be able to get around like they used to. A mentally degenerative condition, such as dementia, may mean confusion, frustration and signs of unusual irritation.
6. Is my relative taking their medication?
If they take medication, do they have dosette boxes for their pills? Is medication being taken regularly or is it stockpiling?
7. Are my parents able to get out and about?
Are your parents still mobile? Are they able to walk to shops or public transport, or to drive themselves safely?
Personal Alarms can be a great way to keep your parents independent while giving the family more reassurance that they are safe and well. Find out more about personal alarms here.
8. Have they got a social life and connections?
Are mum and dad starting to lose interest in the things they’ve always enjoyed?
Are they still seeing friends and responding to invitations? It might be that they’re not physically able enough to get out and about. Or they may have lost the confidence to go out; after a fall, perhaps.
If your relative needs care with a large number of the points raised, they might benefit from a live-in carer. Live-in carers can help with meals, bed-time, getting out and much more. Find out more about what a live-in carer can help with.