As we age, we lose some of our speed and mobility. This natural part of growing older can be frustrating for the affected senior and their loved ones.  We may also become less social and careful about cleaning.  If your father no longer goes down the block for morning coffee, eggs and sports talk, or your mother does not keep the house as tidy as she used to, these could be signs that they need help.

There are many things that an aging person may begin to forget about, put off, or get tired of as their minds and bodies slow down.  You can help them whenever the time comes by simply paying attention to their home and habits. It is common for senior citizens to face lifestyle challenges that overwhelm them.  It is also typical for some elders to be unaware that they actually need help or unable to outright ask for it.

If you know in advance that these potentials go along with your parent’s golden days, you can be prepared to talk with them and compassionately help them more; or arrange for them to get the help they need. Four common signs that an elder is in need of help are:

  1. They are frequently forgetful and sometimes disoriented
  1. They no longer keep their home clean
  1. They are less attentive to their personal hygiene
  1. They stay in the house more and are less active

They are frequently forgetful and sometimes disoriented

Frequent forgetfulness and occasional disorientation are two of the first signs that your elder parent or loved one is moving into the phase of life when they will need additional tender loving care and assistance.  This may not rise to the level of Alzheimer’s or Dementia. In fact it just may be the case that they need additional time to think through things before they can make a decision.

If they often complain of feeling rushed, or frustrated with people who seem rude and hurried, this is a sign that they are slowing down.  As their current caregiver you can address this problem by running errands with them or for them, or hiring someone who can take care of these small tasks they need completed.

They no longer keep their home clean

If your parents were once clean in their housekeeping, or at least presentably tidy, and now their house shows signs of excess and neglect, they may be feeling too tired to clean up.  Think about the energy it takes to clean your home or apartment as a younger more agile person. It tires out the best of us.  Now imagine doing it at half the pace and with less energy, mobility and balance.

If you notice this tendency to live in a space that has more clutter and an unpleasant odor, ask your parents if they feel the impact of their home being less kempt.  Have a gentle and loving conversation in which you talk with them about what they may be experiencing.  In the process, ask if you can help them clean up or get someone to come in once per week or month to clean up on their behalf.

They are less attentive to their personal hygiene

If your parents shower less often or are not taking care of their hair, teeth and clothes, this is a sign that they need help.  Nobody wants to be among others with the thought that their personal body odor is causing discomfort.  This could be quite embarrassing for your loved one if they knew others were aware of their personal hygiene decline.

The fact that they are suffering from this points to their need for help.  There could be many things going on like a reduction or total loss of their sense of smell. Or perhaps they do not feel safe on wet surfaces. Gently suggest getting help for them or adding handles to their bathroom so they feel more safe stepping in and out of the shower.

They stay in the house more and are less active

Many seniors remain high energy with an active social life.  If you notice that your once outgoing and social parent now seems a lot more reclusive, this is an immediate sign that they may need some help. Sometimes just having you, or someone from an in home caregiver elder service, stop by and check on them every couple days or each week will make a senior feel more at ease.

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Created by Thomas Sandz, retired business owner and grandfather of three beautiful girls.