Our first priority should be to make sure that we’re feeling happy, confident, and that we’re enjoying life. However, this isn’t the only concern we should have. While life might be tough for us, we can at least feel that the future can be brighter if we make certain changes. The true might not be said of our parents, who can often feel left behind once their children have left home. And because we’re living our own lives, we sometimes can’t see them as much s we’d like to. So when we do spend time with them, we need to make sure that they’re happy and not in any undiagnosed medical difficulties. Below, we take a look at ten things you should be looking out for when you’re with your mom and dad.
How’s their Weight?
The next time you visit your parents, get right in there and give them a big hug. Of course, this is just a nice thing to do – humans need physical contact. It makes us happy! But there’s another reason: you’ll be able to see if they’ve lost any weight. When people get older, they tend to eat less than they ate during their golden years, but sometimes it can be indicative of something more sinister. There are a whole host of health issues connected to weight loss in the elderly, so if you suspect that they’ve been losing weight, investigate further to get to the bottom of the cause.
Who Are They Talking With?
One of the simplest yet most effective things you can ask your parents when you see them is: who have you been speaking to recently? This is especially important if one of your parents is deceased. Loneliness in people in retirement is a massive problem, one that’s not as widely discussed as it should be. People can often go days without speaking to another soul. Loneliness isn’t just a social problem, either – it has knock-on effects to a person’s health – lonely people die younger than people who are not lonely, though why this should be isn’t fully understood. If you suspect one or both of your parents of being lonely, encourage them to join groups that cater for people of their age.
Struggling with Memories
Everyone’s memories can be faulty. But if one of your parents is severely struggling with their recall and are generally acting confused, then it might be a sign of a more serious issue – Alzheimer’s. As Alzheimer’s symptoms progress, the sufferer will begin to exhibit other unusual behaviors, which can seem “out of character” to people who know them best. If your mom or dad is beginning to show the early signs of the condition, consult with a doctor immediately.
A person’s golden years should be the most enjoyable of their life, but sadly, this isn’t always the case. Stress can be a real problem, and it’s usually because of one specific problem – money, or lack of. When you’re around at your parent’s home, look for signs of financial difficulties. Are they reluctant to put the heating on when it’s cold? Do they have a lot of unopened bills that look like bills? Is there food in the fridge? If the answers to all of these questions are yes, then it could be that they don’t have enough money to enjoy a good quality of life. If you’re in a position to help financially, then do so. If you’re not, then you can talk to the companies to whom they owe money, and try to establish more favorable conditions.
Lack of Meaning
Your parents have likely always had something to hold onto in their life. They were working, and then they were raising children, and so on. They served a purpose that was larger than themselves. Once they retire and their children leave home, these “reasons for being” are removed. Boredom sets in and can be hard to break out of if they don’t have any apparent motivation to move themselves to something better. You can help them to overcome this feeling by, well, reminding them of their value. They raised you, now’s the time to tell them how much you admire and respect them for it.
Difficulty Getting Around
No-one’s going to stay up and mobile their entire life. The body begins to break down eventually. While this isn’t necessarily the worst thing in the world, it does present some problems. For example, your parents will be at an increased chance of falls and other physical hazards. If you notice that they’re struggling to get around the home in the same way that they used to, look at adding some mobility assistance around the house, in the form of banisters, railings, and stairlifts.
Your parents are going to be dealing with big concerns in their life. Even if they were once high-spirited, eternally happy souls, there’s no guarantee that they won’t sink into low moods during their later years. If one of your parents seems to be depressed, talk it out. Some people can be brought back to the positive side of life with just a conversation; though of course, in some cases, more professional help may be required.
Changing the Subject
Older people are more set in their ways than the young. They can be stubborn. While this is mostly harmless, on occasion, it can be risky. For example, is one of your parents stubbornly refusing to see a doctor, even though you think they obviously need to see one? It might be illustrative of a deeper problem. Again, talking it out – with plenty of sympathy and care – is the right starting point.
On the other hand, sometimes otherwise closed parents can become unexpectedly open later in life. If your parents seem more willing to talk about emotional issues, even if it’s in the form of “confessions” of their life, then let them talk. It won’t always be easy to hear, but it’s better than they get it off their chest.