What to Notice About Your Parents’ Aging

Many of us will gather with close family at Christmas and/or New Years.  You may want to observe your parents, or other close relatives, and take note of any new signs of the aging process.

Some of these signs, if occurring infrequently, are no cause for panic.  These signs could mean that your parents need to have someone to check on them daily, or to consider assisted living.

  • Declining mobility
  • Vision problems
  • Loss of interest in favorite pastimes
  • Irritability
  • Hearing loss
  • Confusion
  • Repetition
  • Short-term memory loss
  • Fatigue
  • Unopened mail
  • Changes in the home environment
  • Unusual spending and/or hoarding (collecting)
  • Preoccupation with finances
  • Change in appetite or not eating well
  • Staying alone, isolation
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Bruising from stumbles or falls

What should you do if you notice any of these signs of aging in your parents?  You shouldn’t overreact, or force the issue to discussion.  You should not ignore the signs either.  Just pay attention.

1. Begin keeping a diary or log of what you notice.  By paying attention and keeping a record, you will be able to objectively determine if these behaviors are happening infrequently, or if they are getting worse and may need intervention.

2. Begin to think about the future.  No one likes to face the inevitable facts of decline and death of our parents.  Those who allow themselves to think proactively are much better prepared for the day when all they have left is their parents’ empty house.  It’s the adult children who have been in denial who really become unglued when the end finally arrives.

With family gathered, this may be a good opportunity to observe and discuss the facts together as siblings.  Go for a walk or out for coffee together.  A little investment of time when all are together may ease the challenges you’ll face later.

Whatever you observe, continue to love them and make great memories together as a family!

© 2009 Julie Hall

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