If you’re the child of an aging parent, the post-holiday time could be appropriate to give some thought as to how mom and dad are doing. After all, you may have spent time with them and noticed some subtle or drastic changes.

Admitting that they are getting older and may need assistance is tough, but the worst thing you can do is avoid the topic. There are several things that may tip you off. For example:

  • How is their home? Is it being kept clean? Have there been any large scale purchases? These could point to a situation where they may need some help, or perhaps strict oversight of their finances.
  • Are there larger health care issues? Are your folks gaining or losing significant amounts of weight. Do you notice issues related to their strength and balance? Are chores they used to do with ease now very difficult? Are they able to prepare meals?
  • Do you notice signs of memory loss or early stage dementia?
  • Are they forgetting to take medications?
  • Are there signs of financial problems, such as unpaid bills, calls from bill collectors? Are there large withdrawals?

These are just some of the signs that parents could use additional help that could include:

  • Having you take over their finances. In some situations, you may consider becoming a signer on checking accounts. Consideration should be given, in severe situations, to taking away the check books and credit cards.
  • Consider getting Power of Attorney status. Make sure they have a living will.
  • Meet with their doctors to better understand their overall health and medications.
  • Compile a comprehensive list of bank accounts, investments, Social Security benefits, pensions, etc.
  • Start researching the availability of community services, such as:
  1. Adult day care centers
  2. Develop support systems that could include professionals, friends, clergy, and other who can help them out for daily tasks – cleaning, shopping, etc.
  3. Nursing homes

Keep in mind that it’s unlikely they’ll ask for help so it’s important to be a good observer and listen. But most important it’s key to be a loving, patient, and caring friend to your parent.


*Information for this article was provided by Anthony Cirillo, President of The Aging Experience. He helps organizations craft experiences and seize opportunities the mature marketplace. He helps family caregivers thrive and individuals make educated aging decisions.