Signs your aging parents may need more help at home

Every day, roughly 10,000 baby boomers nationwide turn 65, according to the Pew Research Center, which means that a growing number of Americans are dealing with the many challenges associated with aging parents or relatives. Among them is determining when parents may need assistance they aren't currently receiving.

"Asking for help and depending on others for care may make an individual feel like a burden to family or friends. The goal of home care should be to strengthen the mind and the body, lift spirits and support loved ones in a way that makes life worth living," says Jennifer Sheets, president and chief executive officer of Caring Brands International and Interim HealthCare Inc. "This whole person and individualized approach allows caregivers to look for ways to empower people at home."

Unfortunately, when seniors struggle with basic tasks such as self-care, transportation or household chores, they don't always talk about it. They may be embarrassed or afraid of losing their independence or homes. Still others may not even realize anything is amiss, particularly if they're in the beginning stages of dementia.

Interim HealthCare shares some warning signs that an aging loved one may be in need of senior care:

• A change in mood, such as depression, anxiety or a loss of interest in social activities and hobbies.

• Significant weight loss, which can happen for a variety of reasons, including serious physical and mental disorders.

• Issues with mobility and balance. These can be signs of joint, muscle or neurological problems, and increase the likelihood of falls.

• Bruises, cuts or scrapes are sometimes evidence of falls or kitchen mishaps, and a potential indication of declining physical agility.

• Piles of bills, un-watered plants and overflowing hampers -- these are just a few of the many signs that basic tasks are being neglected.

• New dents or dings on your parents' vehicle. These could be signs that safe driving has become an issue.

• Stains, missing buttons and untrimmed nails, are signs of neglected personal hygiene.

• No food in the house, or moldy, stale or spoiled food, might mean a parent is struggling to grocery shop or cook, or may have even lost interest in eating.

• A prescription stockpile could indicate your parent is forgetting to take critical pills.

• Stacks of unopened bills, late payment notices, unbalanced checkbooks and wads of cash stashed in odd places, are all signs of mismanaged money.

If a parent requires extra care, consider all your options, including in-home assistance, which allows older adults to continue living at home, while getting needed help. Look for care that offers a whole-person approach, such as Interim HealthCare's HomeLife Enrichment standard of care, which looks beyond basic needs to encompass mind, body, spirit and family to develop specific protocols and interactive activities that stimulate the brain, improve motor functions and help seniors feel in control of their days. To learn more, visit interimhealthcare.com.

If your parents are displaying signs of needed care, getting them this support is crucial -- both for their immediate health and safety, as well as their overall happiness and wellness.

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