As the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak unfolds, it’s more important than ever to keep a watchful eye on your aging parent. While healthcare officials encourage social distancing and self-isolation, consider dropping off supplies, phone calls or video chat. Whether food is spoiling, mail is piling up, or something simply seems out of the ordinary, certain signs suggest an aging parent needs help now.
“You can usually spot problems as soon as you drive up or enter your parents’ home,” says Melissa Henston, doctor of geriatric psychology and senior living expert at A Place for Mom. “There are a bunch of warning signs that are easy to spot. For example, the exterior of the house has peeling paint. Once you enter the home, mail is piled up and newspapers are still in plastic wrap. Maybe the house isn’t as clean as normal or has an odor. You can usually tell when something is off.”
“Always note anything out of character,” Henston adds. “I once told my dad, ‘Dad, you can’t eat this stuff. Ham isn’t supposed to be green.’”
For others, the signs may be different or more difficult to recognize. That’s why documenting anything out of the ordinary is useful and important.
No one knows your parents or loved ones like you do — something unusual for them may be an everyday situation at your friend’s parents’ home. Still, it’s helpful to know the common warning signs that may signal trouble, especially now, since coronavirus may keep your loved ones more isolated.
Can you relate to any of the following?
If you notice any of these signs, or if you believe your loved one’s health or happiness is at risk, it’s time to have an open and caring conversation about it. Henston’s Tough Conversations Expert Guide to Assessing Well-Being can help you and your family have a constructive, honest talk.
A variety of care options are available for your aging parents, such as assisted living or memory care. Our online guide to Senior Housing and Care provides additional housing options, the services included and cost information.
If you’d like to talk through any aspect of senior living, our senior living advisors are up-to-date on the latest steps senior living communities are taking to eliminate the risk of coronavirus, and how they are creating the safest possible environment for seniors.
Kim Acosta is managing editor at A Place for Mom. She’s produced digital and print content for more than 20 years as an editorial leader at Shape magazine, P&G, Hallmark, and others. Her work has appeared in national media outlets including Family Circle, Parents, Lifescript, BuzzFeed, Living Fit, Natural Health, WorkingMother.com, and HomeCare.