With summer coming soon, people will be visiting elderly parents they have not seen in a while. If there is some concern about how the parents are getting along, it will be good to have a plan before you arrive so you can make important observations about their ability to age in place.
When you arrive at their home, survey the exterior. Has it been kept up? Is the yard in good shape or has it been neglected? Are there newspapers or packages piling up outside? Basically, any signs that the upkeep is not as it has been or should be.
When the opportunity arises, inspect the kitchen for outdated food. Is there evidence they are eating appropriately? In the pantry are there many containers of the same food item? This may be a sign of forgetfulness as they keep purchasing the same product although they have plenty. Check that all appliances are working properly. Also, if there is an unusual amount of food in the house, they may be food hording.
How is their personal hyenine? Are their clothes clean and do your parents appear clean? By checking out the bathroom you may be able to tell if they are using the shower or not. Is the shower area damp or the soap damp? Is their toothbrush damp?
A really difficult issue to approach is driving. If your parents still drive, try to go out with them driving. This will give you a feel for whether they are able to continue driving.
Any of these signs may be indicators that your parents need some help. A professional caregiver could come in and assist with all these needs. Starting out part time may be all the assistance they need to be able to stay in their home. Studies show that seniors want to remain at home and age in place. Getting early help for them is key to keeping them healthy and safe and actually lowers the cost of elder care over the long term by helping to prevent bigger problems down the road. If you are in doubt of whether your loved one may need some extra assistance, contact your local home care company and see if they offer a free consultation. Most home care companies will gladly offer this as a free service without any pressure to begin services.