Warning signs that your parent may need help or care at home

For those of us with an aging parent, it is often difficult to know how or when to start talking to your parent about making lifestyle changes or getting extra help around the house.

If you are dreading this conversation, don’t fear, you are definitely not alone!  One approach that can help is to start the conversation early before anything has happened requiring an urgent decision.  Change is a difficult thing to accept for many people, at any age.  Giving someone more time to make a decision increases the chances that they will “buy in” to the approach and be willing to go along with the decision.  This means then, that as the adult child or family member, it makes sense to be pro-active and know when to start this no-pressure conversation. 

Here are some common warning signs that it might be time to start the conversation.  For ease of reading this is presented in a checklist format.  The more things on this list you feel apply to your parents, the more likely it is that you should start the conversation.

Physical and Mental Health

  1. Short-term memory loss – repeated questions in a short time frame
  2. Increased difficulty in walking or loss of balance – increase in the frequency of small falls within the home
  3. Decreased vision or hearing
  4. Inability to finish sentences – loss of words
  5. Declining physical health – a diagnosed health condition or illness
  6. Multiple conditions requiring increasing number of medications
  7. Difficulty finding their way home after going out
  8. Incontinence
  9. Depression/feelings of isolation – sometimes the evolution of a lifelong condition or triggered by and event such as loss of spouse
  10. General fear/loss of personal security/paranoia


  1. Loss of appetite
  2. Irregular frequency of meals
  3. Malnutrition or eating expired food

Personal Care

  1. Untidy or unsanitary living conditions – inability to decide what to throw out
  2. Not taking medications or forgetting other tasks
  3. Neglecting financial obligations (e.g. not paying bills)
  4. Decreased desire or energy for personal grooming
  5. Difficulty in choosing clothing – wearing the same thing every day

As you review this list, if you find that more than 3 warning signs are prominent in your parents’ daily lives, you may want to start the conversation about how to make their day to day life safer and easier by either making adjustments to the home or getting some home help.  For more information about how to access senior care in Toronto or Vancouver please visit www.mycarebase.com or call our Care Advisor at 1-877-822-7464.