Summer is Here, Check Up on Mom and Dad

Julia Little  |  July 19, 2011

As adult children are busy raising their own families, it's easy for them to forget that their elderly parents may be dealing with issues of safety and health, requiring a little more assistance than in the past. The problem is compounded because many seniors remain independent and are hesitant to voice their concerns to family members.

If you're worried about a loved one's health, summer is the perfect time to see whether he or she could benefit from a transition from an old, creaky house to an assisted living community where their needs can be met in a safe and friendly environment.

Schedule a vacation to visit Grandpa or Grandma, and while you're there, be sure to keep your eyes open for telltale signs that your loved one's health is deteriorating and that his or her current living situation may no longer be the safest option.

Experts often point to neglect as a serious indicator that elderly parents could benefit from some day-to-day help. If you get to the house and the yard hasn't been mowed or there are unpaid bills and unopened mail on the table, take that into consideration. Spoiled food or empty cupboards can mean that a senior is not only neglecting the house, but their own health as well.

The best way to approach the topic is to do so indirectly. Talk with Dad about how much time he is spending with friends, or ask Mom if she is still going shopping on a regular basis. Social isolation can be a dangerous condition for seniors, both mentally and emotionally.

Examine the state of a house, as well. While parents often want to age in place, this may not be realistic as over the years, a big house begins to require more maintenance than an older person can keep up with. Furthermore, these residences are far from age-friendly. Stairs, slippery bathrooms or rooms with raised thresholds can prove difficult to navigate for a senior with arthritis or limited mobility.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that one in three adults over the age of 65 falls each year, and these incidents can lead to head trauma or broken hips that permanently impact a person's quality of life.

Bring it to your loved one's attention that if she or he is having trouble running errands or maintaining their house, moving to an assisted living community can be a great way to spend the golden years in comfort and safety. In addition, you might also want to talk about how much better the transition would make the family feel.