It’s easy to know what to do when a parent has a medical crisis: Go to the ER. But without the red flags of an emergency, it can be hard to know if there’s a health problem that needs attention.
Often, there are subtle signs of trouble brewing. The following is a list of five signs that may indicate that an Elder needs help. These signs were published by Hospice of the Valley.
- Have your parents lost weight? Unplanned weight loss may indicate a medical condition, such as depression or cancer. Vision problems that make cooking difficult. Dental problems that make chewing painful.
- How is their appearance? Are their clothes clean? What about bathing and grooming? Unkempt appearance may signal depression or dementia.
- Do they seem safe in their home? Are there signs of falls, such as dents in the walls? Is there a system for making sure pills are taken? Scorched pans in the kitchen? Spoiled food in the refrigerator?
- Have they lost interest in their usual activities? Are they withdrawing from friends or dropping hobbies? These could signal pain, depression, or another health issue.
- How well are they getting around? Are they steady on their feet? Able to walk without problems? Any difficulty climbing stairs or getting out of a chair?
What you should do if you have concerns:
- talk with your parents. Tell them what you’ve noticed and why you are concerned. Ask them how you can help, and then LISTEN.
- get the doctor involved. If your parents refuse a doctor’s exam, send a note to the doctor outlining what you have observed. That way, the doctor can follow up at the next regular appointment.
- solve problems together. Explore your parent’s preferences for handling the situation. Consider a family meeting so everyone can share in the discussion. You might also consult a geriatric care manager for help identifying possible solutions.
- be patient. If you encounter resistance, take a step back. People often need time to think about what has been discussed. Rushing can just build resentment.
If you have attempted all of the steps above to assist your parent(s) to no avail, it may be time to seek legal counsel on the possibility of a Conservatorship. You can read more about Conservatorship here.
* The information contained in this Blog is intended for general information and educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or an opinion of counsel.