Does Your Parent Need Help at Home? 10 Things to Check When You Visit

After visiting their elderly parents, many adult children wonder whether their mom or dad might benefit from some help at home. If you're in this boat, asking yourself a few questions the next time you visit will help you begin to figure out what they need.

  1. Have there been any major changes in your parent's weight recently?
  2. Is your parent exercising or otherwise staying active? (Walking counts!)
  3. Is your parent getting out of the house?
  4. Does your parent socialize with friends or neighbors?
  5. Can your parent manage the finances independently? Does he or she pay bills on time?
  6. If an appliance breaks, can your parent find a repairman and make an appointment?
  7. Does your parent have trouble climbing steps?
  8. Does your parent have a plan in the event of a medical emergency or natural disaster?
  9. Does your parent seem happy or content? Are there any signs of depression?
  10. Is your parent able to main the household independently (e.g., cooking, cleaning and grocery shopping)?

Perhaps what seemed like a case of the blues over the phone is more serious than you realized initially. Or maybe your mom is more isolated now that she no longer plays bridge. These dilemmas can be remedied with the proper help and support. Every family's situation is different. A good rule of thumb is to ask questions whenever there is a departure from your parent's usual behavior.

Discuss any issues with your parent. Many elderly people worry about having their independence taken away, so be mindful of your parent's sense of dignity when you approach the subject of help at home. If you decide to seek help outside of friends or family members, read information on the various types of homecare options and homecare services. Reading up on geriatric care managers and the services they provide will also steer you in the right direction.

Emergency Preparation

Seniors are more vulnerable during a natural disaster. Make sure your parents are prepared for any unexpected events that could potentially knock out power or prevent food from being readily available.

  • Check the cabinets for sufficient foodstuffs. When the power and electricity are out, your parent will need water and packaged or canned goods. (Does your parent have difficulty opening canned goods? Read about assistive devices here.)
  • Keep flashlights throughout the house in easy-to-find places. They should be within reach and have working batteries.
  • Ask neighbors whom you trust to check on your parents in the event of a natural disaster.

Should Your Parents Still Be Driving?

This is a sticky one. Some elderly individuals are perfectly responsible drivers and have earned the right to be on the road. However, if you're not sure whether your parent should still be driving, read tips on how to assess the situation and suggestions for talking to your parents about this touchy issue.