Elderly parents often cling to their independence for as long as they can. They don’t want to give up their homes and insist they can manage without help. To protect their independence, they may not be honest with you about health concerns or memory lapses. However, with a stealthy but thorough look around their home, you may be able to tell if something is going wrong.
Home Is Where the Truth Is
The next time you visit your parent, take a walk around the home and look for subtle signs of failing health. He or she probably won’t even notice what you are doing, but you’ll be able to tell a lot. Some signs of decline include:
- In the kitchen. Scorched oven knobs or pot bottoms, a discharged fire extinguisher, and potholders with burned edges are all signs of a previous fire. A kitchen fire can occur when a person with dementia or another mental disorder begins to cook and then forgets about it. Such signs could also be indicators that your parent’s physical and mental capabilities aren’t what they used to be.
- The living areas. If your parent’s home is a mess, and he used to be quite tidy, this change could be indicative of depression or a condition that prevents him from being able to care for himself and his home. Cobwebs, piles of clutter, signs of past spill, and grime in the bathroom could also be signs that he isn’t receiving care from the staff that he should.
- Outside. Look for newspapers that were thrown in the bushes and ignored. Check the mailboxes for neglected mail. If your parent hasn’t kept on top of these matters, it could be a sign of depression or changes in his physical health.
Afraid of the Alternative
With reports of nursing home abuse and neglect, you and your parent may be fearful of taking that next step away from independent living, but if you see signs of danger in your parent’s home, it may not be safe to put if off any longer. Your parent made sure you were safe when you were vulnerable, now it’s your turn to do the same.