Tell-Tale Signs That Your Aging Parent Needs Help

Peter Stevens

Jul 04 2022 comments- 3

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As your parent or elderly loved one ages, you may not notice any differences in their physical or mental abilities from one week to the next. But sadly, changes are indeed happening for older adults as their bodies and minds deteriorate with age. If necessary preventive and protective measures aren’t taken timely, the risk of developing injuries can increase immensely. What are the reasons a parent needs help in their daily lives?

The elderly are at a higher risk of developing medical conditions and contracting injuries. They are also less capable of recovering from disease and injuries compared to younger, healthier individuals. If your beloved father is alone and falls, for example, he’s at high risk of getting severely injured.

One way to keep your parents protected at all times is with a medical alert system. But how can you determine if your aging parent needs help beyond a medical alert system or more? Here are a few signs to look out for that may indicate additional support is necessary.  Always be certain to check with a medical professional if you notice any changes in your parent.

Physical Changes

One of the strongest indicators of the need for medical attention is abrupt weight loss or weight gain. Many diseases like cancer and gastroenteritis can lead to rapid weight loss.  Sometimes, these changes are not entirely obvious. That’s why it’s necessary that your parents get weighed on a regular basis. Also, observe their eating habits to ensure they are consuming enough calories to maintain their weight.

Something else to watch out for is if your parent has difficulty seeing or hearing. Perhaps they have stopped reading altogether, or maybe the television or radio is now constantly at the highest volumes. This may mean that your parent has cataracts or needs hearing aids. They should need to see an ophthalmologist or an audiologist to determine the right course of action.

Tell-Tale Signs That Your Aging Parent Needs Help Help Elderly woman with glasses and magnifying glass

Excessive sleep

Many older adults sleep less deeply as they age, and they may also wake up throughout the night. Therefore, they may nap a lot during the day. But while sleeping patterns may change as you age, sleeping too much might be a sign your parent needs help.

Sleeping for a majority of the day can be an indicator of chronic depression, sleep disorders, or other medical complications. If your elderly parent doesn’t leave their room for most of the day or emerges still feeling tired and drowsy, something may be amiss. Be sure to schedule an appointment with a doctor. Ask if there might be an underlying condition that is causing the symptoms.

Changes in mobility

If your parent is unable to get up from a seated position without great effort, this could indicate mobility problems. Mobility challenges or limitations are exacerbated by staying idle. If you’re in pain, then you can easily get stuck in a vicious cycle of limiting your movements which makes things worse. This can indicate the possibility of impaired strength or debilitating conditions like rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis. Slower walking may mean a problem with gait or balance, and if left untreated, can seriously increase the likelihood of a fall.

Behavioral Changes at Home

Consider that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that 1 out of every 5 falls leads to a serious injury like a head injury or a broken bone. This risk can be amplified if your loved one is unsafe in their home. Look out for the following:

Confusion in the kitchen

Your parent needs help in the kitchen if he or she used to make their own means but is now burning meals or forgetting to turn off boiling pots. FEMA reports that people 65+ have a 2.5 times greater risk of dying in a kitchen fire than the general population. Check that their smoke detectors have fresh batteries, and consider purchasing a medical alert system as an additional precaution.

Another thing to take note of is whether your parent is forgetting to wash dishes or doesn’t seem to notice or care that they’ve piled up. This can lead to dangerous or unhealthy conditions in their home.

Tell-Tale Signs That Your Aging Parent Needs Help Help dirty kitchen piled up dishes

Unpaid bills, mail pile-ups, and missed medication

Another clue to keep an eye out for is unpaid bills. This indicates that your parent is unable to keep up with their financial responsibilities, perhaps due to being overwhelmed. Your parent likely needs help in the form of reminders or assistance keeping track of bills.

If your parent accumulates unopened mail, it may be as a result of memory loss. Disorganized paperwork and big collections of unneeded items may be a sign of impaired cognitive abilities. The Alzheimer’s Association says that symptoms of dementia may include hoarding, rummaging, or hiding items. They may do these things due to memory loss, mental confusion, disorientation, and/or impaired judgment. In order to spot this, schedule visits to your parents’ home every week. Make sure bills are paid on time and the home is clean and organized.

Deteriorating memory can be a serious challenge and is definitely a sign your parent needs help. This is because it may mean that your parent can’t remember to care for themselves. This can be particularly dangerous if he or she forgets to take medications on time. In this case, a medical alert system such as LifeFone or Medical Guardian can come in handy. Most of the best medical alert systems include medication reminder features so your parent never misses a dosage. Be sure to look at different medical alert systems reviews before you choose a solution.

Disheveled clothes and poor personal hygiene

Other red flags to keep a look out for are changes in dress and personal hygiene. For example, if your elderly mother isn’t talking much or hasn’t taken a bath in a few days, there could be something to be concerned about. Forgetting to care for one’s appearance, not caring about it anymore, or fear of falling in the bathroom are signs your parent needs help with personal hygiene.

Driving Difficulties

Take note if your parent has become uncomfortable behind the wheel. Many seniors will understandably be resistant to giving up their driving independence. But to keep them and others on the road safe, pay attention to what happens when they are driving. Troubling signs can include getting lost while driving, receiving a lot of parking tickets, confusion at traffic lights, side-swiping other cars, or having accidents. You should also be aware that if an elderly person has heart or breathing problems, concentration while driving may be impaired.


Nobody loves us quite like our parents. We must care for them and ensure they are protected as they age. We offered some of the warning signs that suggest your parents need help and support them. Once it becomes clear that they do require additional help, make sure you take the right steps to keep them safe and healthy. One way to do this is to get them a medical alert system.

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Questions & Answers

Anna Kieu

Thanks so much for sharing. I like this helpful!

Deborah LaBonte

All of these safe medical alert systems, none of them speak on how the system works if a persons becomes unconscious. I have brain trauma and some side effects. Just wondering I am unable to have an MRI due to the metal in my body. I may not be able to tell someone.

Peter Stevens

Hi Deborah, it seems like you have two questions.
1. Regarding what happens if you are unconscious, there are automatic fall detection features that will automatically contact the medical alert operators if a fall is detected. If you are unable to speak, they are trained to send help right away.
2. When you sign up with a medical alert system, you can provide information that their operators can pass on to medical personnel in case of emergency. Additionally, you can include information about any family who you would want contacted in case of emergency.
Hope that helps!

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