From spoiled food to living in the same pair of pajamas, certain signs suggest an aging parent needs help now. “Always note anything out of character,” says Melissa Henston, a doctor of geriatric psychology. “I once told my dad, ‘Dad, you can’t eat this stuff. Ham isn’t supposed to be green.’”
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 common warning signs that may signal trouble.
Whether visiting in person or catching up via video chat, here are 18 things to look out for.
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Bounced checks, calls from collections, and late payment notices Are bills being paid late or not at all? Are there messages from collection companies?
Broken or damaged appliances and fixtures Have they stopped cooking or maintaining a regular meal schedule because their kitchen appliances don’t work? Are important items breaking and/or not being tended to, such as light bulbs or smoke alarms?
Changes in mood or extreme mood swings Are your parents acting differently toward you, friends or even strangers?
Cluttered, dirty, or disorganized house Is the home beginning to look and feel different, or even unrecognizable?
Confusion and uncertainty when performing familiar tasks Do your parents seem uncertain how to complete daily chores or tasks such as laundry, vacuuming or washing dishes?
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.