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Signs Aging Parents Might Need Help

Father and son family time together at home concept. Smiling old

It’s difficult to watch your parents age. At some point, the rosy childhood view of our parents as invincible erodes, and we recognize their mortality. Most people live separately and apart from their parents in late adulthood. We assume our parents are capable of caring for themselves but, at a certain point, they may need help. Whether they start to experience dementia, Alzheimer’s, or other conditions that arise with old age, at a certain point, it might be time to intervene. Your parents may need at-home nursing care, or they may benefit from more extensive care such as residing in a nursing home. It’s important to make sure that their estate plan and elder care plans are in place to ensure that they get the health care they need in their elder years, and that their affairs are lined up should the worst occur. At some point, it may even be advisable to set up a guardianship.

Read on for a discussion of several of the signs to watch out for to determine if your aging parents need intervention. If you need assistance with guardianship or other estate planning matters, call a compassionate Vancouver guardianship and estate planning attorney for help preparing an estate in Washington State.

Financial Troubles

Elderly individuals often unknowingly rack up debts and expenses. They may start to forget to pay bills, buy items or subscriptions multiple times, or fall victim to scams. Elderly individuals are especially sought-after targets for internet and telephone scams, in which they might give money or vital personal information out to unscrupulous hucksters. Watch out for bounced checks, aggressive calls from creditors or collection agencies, and notices regarding late payments. The last thing you want is for your aging parent to face an eviction notice or see their property repossessed.

Behavioral Differences

You know your parents well, but you might not see them all the time. When you do visit or call, watch out for subtle or more obvious behavioral changes. They may start withdrawing from their favored activities, they may forget to take their medications, they may withdraw from social life, or they may stop taking care of themselves more generally. Watch out for significant mood swings, changes in their personality, lack of energy, or signs of cognitive decline such as confusion and uncertainty when performing normal tasks.

Your parents may be going through bouts of depression or they may be experiencing something more long-term. You might even want to seek their permission to talk to other regular figures in their lives–friends, neighbors, doctors, local relatives, etc.–and ask them to watch out for anything amiss.

Signs of Self-Neglect

You may identify a number of external signals that your parent is in need of assistance. If your parent starts to engage in a pattern of self-neglect, it could be time to get them some help. Self-neglect can take the form of:

  • Soiled clothes and unwashed laundry
  • Broken appliances and fixtures
  • Hoarding, clutter, and generally dirty and disorganized surroundings
  • Untreated injuries such as cuts, scrapes, bruises, or even broken bones
  • Frequent injuries
  • Unwashed dishes, lack of yard maintenance, and other signs of a disheveled home
  • Medication left untaken
  • Poor hygiene
  • Significant weight loss or muscle deterioration
  • Unexplained scratches, dents, or other damage to their car

If you identify any of these signs in your visit or video call, start a dialogue about what help your parents may need.

Working with a qualified estate planning professional can help you establish a plan that works for your parents, your spouse, and the rest of your family. We’ll provide you with comprehensive estate planning guidance to ensure that your affairs are in order and your loved ones are protected. Contact the dedicated and thorough Washington estate planning attorney John Lutgens in Vancouver at 360-693-2119.

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