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Monday, 27 March 2017 02:00

Signs your elderly parent needs help: what to look out for

Old age has a tendency to sneak up on most people – often because we live in denial of it. Our ageing parents or loved ones seem to be fine and healthy, until suddenly one day they end up in hospital after a fall or a particularly bad cold, leaving the family in shock and wondering how it happened.

As our parents age there are signs we can look out for that may indicate they require help with daily tasks such as taking medication, light housekeeping, transportation and personal hygiene. Let’s take a look at some of the key factors that indicate help may be needed.


Watch out for signs that accounts have been left unpaid, medication has been missed or taken incorrectly or that your parent gets lost or becomes disorientated easily.

Lack of fresh food

Check the fridge. Is there old food in there that hasn’t been thrown away? A distinct lack of any fresh fruit, vegetables and meat could indicate that shopping and eating healthily has become a burden.

Changes in hygiene

As mobility decreases your loved one may find it challenging to maintain personal hygiene. Look out for dishevelled or inappropriate clothing, unbrushed hair or teeth or any unpleasant odours.

Unkempt house

You may notice that clutter is piling up, laundry and dishes are left unwashed and general upkeep around the house has not been done.

Unexplained injuries

Unusual bruising, scratches and burns could also point to your elderly parent having trouble with caring for themselves properly.

Remain sensitive to your parents’ sense of independence and dignity when broaching the topic of elderly care; choose the time to bring it up wisely and gently point out the reasons why you feel they may need extra help in the home.

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