8 Questions to find out if your Elderly Parents are not coping

4th February 2016

Elderly parents or relatives no longer coping at home is something we all worry about.  However, worrying about it, being able to talk about it and then fix it can be a real challenge.

These can be  difficult conversations to have, no one wants to admit they are getting older and may need a little extra help, especially as admitting to it might lead to a loss of independence and all that that might mean.  But it might also be a relief to admit that life is harder than it used to be – particularly if you can provide solutions.

8 Questions to ask elderly parents

Before you start the conversations, here is our checklist of 8 questions to consider to assess whether your elderly parents are not coping:

8 Questions to ask elderly parents

1. Look around the house and garden to see if things are less well cared for than they used to be: is the house less clean and tidy than it used to be, especially kitchen and bathroom? Is the laundry piling up? Is post unopened?

2. Money: are 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?


3. Medication: if they take medication, do they have dosette boxes for their pills and do they seem to be being taken regularly.

4. Personal hygiene: 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? It may be worth asking this question directly, as this is often a real challenge as mobility reduces.

Personal hygiene

5. Clothes: are they over or under-dressed for the weather?

6. Food: check the fridge to make sure food isn’t trying to jump out by itself and to see if they appear to be eating regular meals. Are they still able to cook or heat food safely?


7. Mobility:  can they still get up and down stairs? Are they able to walk to shops or public transport, or to drive themselves safely?

8. Hobbies and socialising: are they still doing the things they have enjoyed doing until now? Are they getting out to see friends or go to activities?

What to do next

If these questions suggest that they are no longer coping you may need to take things slowly.  Start with suggesting (more) cleaning help at first, while you investigate other help such as Care Agencies, food delivery, Care Homes, Dial-a-Ride services. There are lots of other suggestions to help someone stay longer in their own home in this section.

You should also talk to their GP, and/or arrange for an assessment from their local social services. They will carry out both a needs and financial assessment, and they will provide your parents/relatives with a plan regarding the care that they need.  The local authority will provide details of how to find that care and if eligible they will fund part or all of the care that they recommend.

Here is a blog about what to do if someone refuses helpDo you have experience of realising your relatives can no longer cope? What did you do? Share your experience or look for others’ ideas in our Forum .

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