Six Tips to Determine When an Elderly Parent Isn’t “Fine”

The aging experts at Stay at Home Personal Care in Virginia have assembled their best recommendations on what to look for at an elderly loved one’s home this holiday season.
Nov. 21, 2012 - PRLog -- Charlottesville, VA, November 21, 2012 - Many families communicate “across the miles” during the year. For an adult child living in California, juggling their own young children and a busy career can make personal visits to check on an aging parent in Virginia difficult. What adult children find when they do return home during the holidays can often come as a surprise. The elderly parent who told them all year they were “doing fine” and managing well on their own, actually isn’t.

The aging experts at Stay at Home Personal Care in Virginia have assembled their best recommendations on what to look for at an elderly loved one’s home this holiday season.

1) Change in appearance or personality. These two areas often provide the first clues that something is wrong. Is your mother someone who always had every hair in place but now is looking a little tousled? Or has your always upbeat father become crabby and short-tempered? Contrary to popular elderly stereotypes, neither of these are typical parts of the aging process. They can be indicators of poor nutrition, memory loss, depression and more.

2) Condition of their home. Physical limitations may make major projects like painting and gutter cleaning difficult for aging adults. But trash piling up, odors, expired food in the refrigerator and bills accumulating are warning signs that your loved one is struggling.

3) Involvement in the Community. If your aging parents were always involved in community activities, talk with them to see if they still are. Do they get out and about with friends? If not, investigate why. Is transportation an issue? Or money? If their change in activity is because of a lack of interest, they may need to be evaluated for depression. Depression among the elderly can cause them to withdraw from activities they’ve always enjoyed.

4) Examine their Car. If your family member still drives, taking a look at the condition of their car is a good idea. Dings, bumps and bangs are usually things that need to be discussed. If children live out of town, older adults may not feel like they have a choice but to keep driving. They may be unaware of the great resources the Virginia Division for the Aging has for seniors, including a network of 25 Area Agencies on Aging throughout the state. Most offices can help with transportation referrals.

5) Check Out their Medicine Drawer. Mismanaging medications is one of the most common ways seniors get in to trouble. They may take too much of one prescription and none of the other. Your visit home is a good time to look at dates on prescription bottles and how many doses remain in the bottle.  Do they match up? Are there out of date prescriptions? Do they have a medication list posted in an easy to access spot should emergency workers need it? Are the medications on the list ones they have in their medication drawer? It is important to compare what they should be taking with what they are actually taking. It may require a call to their primary care physician to determine what medications they should be taking and how much

6) Have they Become Distracted? We typically associate forgetfulness with dementia. But there are other indicators to consider. Many may make your elderly loved one appear distracted. Are they misplacing personal items or “storing” them in strange places? For example, are you finding face cleanser in the refrigerator or car keys in the microwave? Do you find them not paying attention to questions you ask them or to your response to questions they ask you? These issues can all signal something is wrong.

If you find yourself answering yes to one or more of these questions on your visit home, don’t assume the worst and call the local nursing home. Start by scheduling a visit for your parent with their primary care physician. They can help determine if it is depression, poor eating habits that have led to a vitamin deficiency or something more complicated. Once you have that knowledge, it is easier to determine what types of services they need.

“Our team helps Virginia families pull together a plan for keeping loved ones independent and at home every day. A few hours of support from a private duty aide who can help with shopping and meal preparation for the week is often a good place to start,” explains Stay at Home Personal Care’s Director of Operations, Brandi Smith  “Better nutrition improves everything from energy level to cognitive function. That is just one example of how we can help Virginia’s senior population maintain their independence.”

For more information on how to evaluate a loved one’s home or ways to help them maintain their independence, please call Charles Ix at (855) 704-4663 or visit Stay at Home Personal Care (

About Stay at Home Personal Care
Stay at Home was founded in 2004 to meet the growing need for home care in Hampton Roads, Virginia. Since that time, we have expanded to five offices throughout Virginia. Our Norfolk and Portsmouth offices serve clients in Hampton Roads (Chesapeake, Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Suffolk, Portsmouth), our Hampton office serves the Peninsula (Newport News, York, Yorktown, Williamsburg, Poquoson) and our Gloucester office serves the Middle Peninsula and Northern Neck (Kilmarnock,Gloucester,West Point, Mathews ,Middlesex,Lancaster and Richmond counties). Our newest office in Christiansburg covers the New River Valley (Christiansburg, Blacksburg, Radford, Pulaski , Montgomery, Giles and Carroll Counties.)  All five agencies are licensed by the Virginia Department of Health and have Medicaid provider agreements. We provide care in whatever setting our clients call home. That includes their private residence or a senior living community.
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Tags:Senior, Personal Care, Senior Care
Location:Charlottesville - Virginia - United States
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