6 Signs Your Parent Is Slipping

98139327For more than 2 years I have been working with Griswold Home Care as a marketing consultant. Griswold is a leader in non-medical home care. They are a terrific organization and are a national business of care giving in 32 states. The business of care giving was not one I thought about until a few years ago when my wonderful older sister, Barbara, had a serious auto accident and then needed care and physically declined over a 5-year period and subsequently passed away in early 2016. She had a truly wonderful caregiver during those years by the name of Barb Gottshaw. As a result I have a far deeper understanding and appreciation of the importance and role of care giving whether done through the family or an outside organization.

My sister was relatively young when she passed away (67), but the majority of recipients of care are in their 80s or older and they are primarily female, since women live longer than men.

When do you see the signs that mom/dad are slipping? Holiday family gatherings are often a time when a child (most often the daughter) starts to see signs that mom/dad is slipping. There can be many signs. Things like:

1. Mom/dad has been ignoring longtime friends and activities.

2. Mom/dad have had more frequent “slips”, claiming they were just clumsy

3. Bills are unpaid and mail is piling up

4. The medicine cabinet is full of expired prescriptions, and there is no pill box to organize their meds.

5. Mom/dad keeps repeating stories, yet they have a difficult time recalling what they did this morning.

6. Mom/dad starts calling family members by the wrong names. (OK, I call our dog Jeter by our kids names sometimes, but he’s a winner like his namesake, so he doesn’t mind).

Sometimes these signs come gradually and often the parent tries to mask the severity of the issues they face. No one wants to lose independence or have the “keys to the car taken away”. So it’s easy for the child to ignore the signs when mom/dad says “I’m fine. I don’t need help”. But it’s virtually certain that they do and they are merely putting up a front—don’t be fooled.

The key is allow the parent to feel good about having a caregiver and a good caregiver allows the recipient the dignity of feeling they just need a “little help”.

Our aging society reinforces the growing importance of care giving. Seeing the signs in your parent that they are slipping is the first step. If you see them, don’t delay. You will be helping your parent and yourself.

Remember, your own time of need may be coming around the bend.

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