If you are concerned about the ability of you parents to continue to live on your own, don’t ever forget that they are probably worried about the same thing. The fear of the loss of independence may cause your elderly parents to hide things from you. Don’t think that the “I’m fine” response they give is a real answer as you inquire into their health. Instead, pay attention to tiny details during your telephone conversations and visits and if any regular routines change, do some investigating.
Have you noticed that your elderly parent has been skipping the opportunities to be involved in social activities outside of the home? If your parents previously had a routine of volunteering, were active in groups or met friends for lunch or coffee on a regular basis and have suddenly come up with excuses why they have opted to stay at home, start paying attention.
A sudden change in routine involving social activities could be an indication that underlying problems could be to blame. Be on the lookout for signs that could point to health problems:
- Easily fatigued
- Difficulty getting around
- Joint pain
- Vision problems
The possibility of an anxiety about the ability to drive could also be behind an aging person’s reluctance to keep up with an active schedule away from home. The driving privilege is an important factor in the independence in people, no matter what their age is, and losing the drivers license makes a person more dependent on others. If your aging parent is worried that their reflexes are slowing down and may be worried that an accident or traffic ticket could lead to questions about their driving abilities, it could be cause enough for them to reduce the number of occasions that they take to the road for entertainment. Knowing that you are concerned about their safety, don’t expect that they will bring up this fear to you, because that would make them even more vulnerable about their ability to hang on to their drivers license.
If your elderly parent is staying home more, it could mean that they are suffering from depression. There are a lot of indicators that you can look for on your visits that point toward the need for intervention.
- Look for changes in the appearance of the home. Is an effort being made to keep it neat and tidy?
- Is your parent showing a change in personal hygiene habits or the way that they dress?
- Is your parent occupied when you unexpectedly arrive at the door?
- Who has your parent talked to recently?
- Are the cupboards and refrigerator stocked with the food items that they regularly eat?
Keep in mind that your parent will have good days as well as bad days and that a single instance of change in behavior shouldn’t cause undo alarm. If it seems like your parent’s lifestyle has undergone a major change, step in and address the situation so that steps can be taken to get your loved ones back into a healthy and full life. Their social activities will not only keep them active, but be a good way of monitoring their situation.