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Aging parents are becoming a concern for a growing number of Idahoans. In an article originally published on we find some useful tips on monitoring our parent’s well-being while allowing them the independence they desire. Below are 5 items to consider.

1: Are your parents losing weight?

Losing a significant amount of weight without trying can be a sign of trouble. Perhaps they are having difficulty cooking whether because of a lack of energy, difficulty using utensils and appliances, or maybe they’re having difficulty reading or understanding the instructions.

As we age it is normal for our sense of taste to diminish this can also lead to a loss of appetite when foods just don’t taste as good as they used to. Smell is very important to our appetite and a decline in our ability to smell can also lead to problems with proper nutrition.

Of course there is always the concern of deeper issues such as dementia, cancer or even depression.

2: Are your parents taking care of themselves?

A direct quote from the Mayo Clinic article explains this concern:

“Pay attention to your parents’ appearance. Are their clothes clean? Do they appear to be taking good care of themselves? Failure to keep up with daily routines — such as bathing, tooth brushing and other basic grooming — could indicate health problems such as dementia, depression or physical impairments.”

It is also important to monitor the living conditions in the home. Look for big changes from the past. Are lights burnt out? How about the bathrooms, are they kept as clean as they used to be? Scorched cookware may indicate forgetfulness when cooking. Depression or dementia can be a cause of chronic problems in this area as well.

3: Is their home as safe as possible?

Safety around the home is very important. Are hallways and stairs well lit? Are falls becoming a problem? Are they having trouble reading prescriptions or instructions? Is there a concern of falling or slipping when coming in and out of the house? A malfunctioning water heater or furnace can be deadly. Periodic maintenance is critical to keeping the home safe.

4: Are they in good spirits?

Again we want to see consistency in their behavior. Are they as active as they would like to be? Do they need help getting out and participating in activities? Are they still interested in life-long hobbies and activities? If they are religious are they attending worship services?

5: How are they getting around?

We all slow down as we get older. Watch your parents as they are walking. Make sure they can still get where they need to without too much discomfort or pain. Aching joints and lack of energy can lead to difficulties walking and that can lead to depression. Do they need a cane or a walker? Perhaps they would benefit from chairs that are easier to get out of or higher toilets that are easier to use?

What to do?

  • First, take care of any safety issues. Replace light bulbs; add bars or grips where necessary. If canes or walkers are needed take care of the issue.
  • Talk to your parents, share your concerns with them. Open communication can go a long way towards taking care of these issues. It isn’t always easy to admit you need help. Therefore, be patient and understanding. Remember how important your independence is to you, it is just as important to them. Sometimes just knowing that someone cares and is paying attention can make all the difference.
  • Encourage regular visits with health care professionals.
  • Consider Home Health services. There are a number of very good services in Idaho that have experience serving the elderly while helping them to maintain their independence.
  • Network with local agencies and support groups.

It is important to make sure your parents know of your sincere concerns and that you truly care for them. Quality of life is an important variable and they need to know that you are concerned about the same things they are.

Idaho Estate Planning is part of the Treasure Valley Care Planning Council, a non-profit network of elder care professionals available to provide information on the information discussed above and much more. Let us know your concerns and we will help you find the resources you need.

In addition to caring for your parents, it is also important to consider your own concerns for the future. How will you maintain your independence as you grow older? What effect would a costly health issue have on your quality of life? The more planning you do now the less difficulty there will be later. Good planning is no accident.

Call us today and let us help.