As parents age, it often falls to their children to start taking care of and monitoring their overall health. Since people are more prone to health problems the more they age, it’s important, if you’re able, to keep an eye on your parent or parents at this time of their life. While they may still be perfectly capable of taking care of themselves, keeping a weather eye could go a long way toward ensuring they stay healthy and independent for as long as possible. Luckily, for those who aren’t trained medical professionals, there are a few common warning signs to look out for when keeping track of how your parents’ health is faring as they get older.
If your parent or parents look as though they’ve lost interest in their own appearance, it could be an indicator of a larger health concern. It may be that your parent or parents are experiencing physical discomfort that is getting in the way of taking care of them. It could also be that they’re experiencing depression, which is often a cause in someone losing interest in their appearance. If you’re a distant child, have a video chat with your parents whenever possible. Not only is it a more fulfilling way to communicate, you’ll notice any unhealthy changes sooner rather than later.
Extreme Memory Loss
While some memory loss is to be expected when one enters old age, extreme memory loss can indicate the onset of dementia or Alzheimer’s. These are both very serious illnesses that could result in dangerous situations for the affected parent if not diagnosed and monitored as soon as possible. If your parent is getting turned around in their town or can’t remember certain words, that’s different than just the occasional “senior moments”. Make an appointment with a health specialist immediately.
Unhealthy Weight Fluctuations
If you parent or parents seem to be losing or gaining weight in the extreme, it can absolutely be an indication that something else might be going on. Health concerns for seniors are often evidenced by weight fluctuation, even if the root cause is something as simple as it not being comfortable or safe to cook for themselves anymore. In any case, weight fluctuation isn’t healthy in and of itself, so if you notice your aging parent doing through either weight loss or gain that doesn’t look healthy, do not wait to investigate. It could be that they’re suffering from an undiagnosed illness or going through a serious bout of depression.
Depression is not uncommon for aging seniors, especially if they’ve lost loved ones or don’t live near friends and family. If you are a distant child of an aging parent, listen carefully to how your parent or parents sound on the phone. If they are consistently withdrawn and negative, it might be a good idea to suggest therapy or a visit to get to the root of the problem. Depression can also manifest in those experiencing physical illness, so don’t discount the fact that something else could be wrong. The Greensboro Elder Care Service has plenty of options available for those with parents suffering from age-related depression.