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Warning Signs: Health Problems in your Aging Parents


As your parents get older, many adults will assume the role as caregiver. As a caregiver, you are going to want to make sure your aging parents are taking care of themselves and staying healthy. Sometimes this can be tricky when your parents want to maintain their independence.

5 Signs of Concern:

  1. Has your older parent begun to lose weight? Weight loss can be a sign that something is wrong and can be contributed to many factors. Your parent may have trouble cooking – lack of energy, trouble reading labels or the inability to properly use cooking utensils. Weight loss can also be an indicator of an underlying medical condition – cancer, malnutrition, dementia or depression.
  2. Ask yourself if your aging parent is taking proper care of themselves. Take note of your parent’s appearance. Are they practicing proper hygiene? Poor hygiene can often be a sign of physical impairments, depression or dementia. Also look at the appearance of your parent’s home. The inability to maintain a clean home may also be cause for concern.
  3. Is your parent safe in their home? Are they able to get up and down the stairs easily? Can they read medication labels? Has your parent had a fall in their home recently?
  4. Is your older parent in good spirits? Take note of your parent’s mood. Are they interested in hobbies, interaction with others and daily activities? If not, this may be a sign of depression or a health concern.
  5. Is your aging parent mobile? Pay attention to how your parent is walking. Are they able to walk at a normal pace? Are they unwilling to walk usual distances? Would your parent benefit from an assistive device. Muscle weakness and joint problems can be a huge concern for the elderly.

What you can do:

  • Discuss your concerns with your parents.
  • Encourage regular physical exams to ensure the health of your parent.
  • Address the safety issues in your parent’s home – this may include installing safety bars.
  • Look into home health care services.
  • If your parent dismisses your concern, contact their doctor for guidance.
  • Seek help from local agencies on aging. A social worker may be able to help evaluate your parent’s needs and help them connect with services that may be helpful.

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