Warning Signs Your Parents Need Help at Home

Warning Signs Your Parents Need Help at Home
Dominique Curtin, 1/30/2017

Broaching the topic to your parents about how they may need help at home is not going to be an easy discussion to have with them. Often, it could be a conflicting role reversal from parent – to dependent, and this could result in denial on both sides.

Check for These Warning Signs Your Parent May Need Help

Are you finding spoiled and expired food in the refrigerator and cupboard? Have you noticed your aging parents are having a hard time remembering their daily dose of medication? Does this sound familiar, “Mom, are you doing ok? Do you need a hand cleaning and organizing the house?” To which she replies, “No, I am fine.” Or, “Dad, have you taken your medications today?” To which he replies, “No, I must have forgotten.” If you are starting to think that your aging parents may need help at home, it could be helpful to refer to a checklist before and during the conversation with them.
  • Cluttered, unkempt living environment. Have you noticed that your aging parents house is no longer in order and they can’t seem to organize it?
  • Late payment notices, bouncing checks, or calls from collections agencies. When you notice your aging parents are no longer able to manage their finances; this could be a red flag.
  • Disheveled clothing, and/or body odor. Forgetting to wash themselves or their clothes is certainly an indication something is not right.
  • Poor diet or weight loss. Have you noticed that your aging parents have lost weight? Or, have you found spoiled or expired food more often? Changes in appearance due to forgetfulness to maintain a healthy diet is a significant sign your parents may need help at home.
  • Unexplained bruising. Large and frequent bruising on your parent could indicate falls and/or poor diet. Either way, it is a red flag and you should talk to them about how they think they got the bruises.
  • Difficulties getting up from a seated position, walking or mobility issues. If you feel like you are constantly having to help your parents with their movement and noticed their agility is severely limited, it may be time they have some help at home.
  • Forgetting to take medications, or taking incorrect dosages. Medication is often in the daily routine for our aging parents. It could become dangerous however if they can’t remember if they’ve taken their dose which could result in taking too much or not at all.
  • Hesitation or confusion while trying to complete once familiar tasks. Have you noticed your parent is frequently getting confused from day-to-day activities that used to be a part of their daily routine?
  • Missing important appointments. This could be a sign that they are unable to organize their calendar and are experiencing recurrent forgetfulness.
  • Mood swings, depression, or low energy. If you noticed your parents have significant changes in their temperament (often) it could be because of an underlying issue. It would be good to start the discussion with how you have noticed a big change in their behaviors.
  • Disinterest in activities they once enjoyed. If you are noticing that your aging parents are no longer participating in activities they once enjoyed doing, and spending more of their time sitting (or not doing much at all) it could be an indication something is going on.


It is extremely difficult to watch your parents age, especially if their mental or physical health begins to decline. Staying aware of the warning signs could make all the difference in prolonging their independence – so it is important to be proactive. That way, you put the right care plan in place for them. It could be helpful to start the discussion and planning of in home care, or even a retirement community. It is also very important that you do not wait to have this conversation with your aging parents. Let them know what you have been observing and how you are concerned for them. Also, it is important to remember your tone when speaking to them – your parents may be aging, but they are not children. Please speak to them accordingly (you will probably have a better outcome that way!).

What to expect from in home care services

Lastly, here are some key points you can discuss with them on the benefits of engaging help at home.

Typical services could include:
  • Bathing and dressing assistance
  • Food shopping at the grocery store
  • Appointment and medication reminders
  • Some housekeeping (washing dishes, laundry, ironing, change linens and bed making, or vacuuming)
  • Driving to doctors’ appointments, picking up prescriptions, errands, or transportation
  • Walking assistance
  • Watching movies, playing games and companionship
Dominique Curtin

Dominique Curtin

Dominique is the Digital Content Manager for HomeCare.com, a leader in the caregiver referral service industry. She has marketing expertise in the healthcare industry and has a passion for helping families connect with the best caregivers. In addition, she has helped lead several company's marketing programs across websites and social media platforms.