Assessing the well-being of aging parents or grandparents is crucial, whether you're physically or virtually connecting with them. Many adult children worry about their aging parents, especially when they can't physically be with them.
Questions may arise about their need for assistance or support at home so it's important to pay attention to subtle signs during conversations and visits, whether virtual or in person.
However, it's crucial not to turn visits into interrogations. Instead, focus on observing and listening for indicators that suggest more help and support may be necessary. Here are key areas to consider:
Appearance and Clothing:
Notice any significant changes in their appearance, such as weight fluctuations or unkempt grooming habits. Pay attention to mismatched outfits, stains, or missing buttons that may indicate a decline in self-care.
During virtual visits, ask your parent to show you parts of their home where you would usually gather. Assess if there is a notable change in cleanliness, such as increased clutter, unopened mail, or neglected household chores.
Observe their mobility during the conversation. Do they have difficulty standing up or show signs of unsteadiness? Notice if they use any walking aids, like a cane or walker, or if they appear out of breath when moving around.
Mental Health and Memory:
Engage in conversation about family news and current events. Later in the call, check if they remember the topics you discussed. Watch for signs of repeated questioning, unusual comments, or memory lapses. Inquire about their emotional well-being and if they are feeling down or depressed.
These observations and insights will provide clues about how well your parent or grandparent is managing at home. If you have concerns, address them openly and kindly. Position yourself as an ally and express your desire to help them maintain their independence, safety, and well-being.
Discuss their thoughts on whether they need assistance and what type of support would be most helpful. If necessary, explore options like hiring household help, caregiving services, or arranging for meal deliveries, considering payment details. If medical concerns arise, suggest a virtual appointment with family doctor or utilize telehealth services.
Remember, patience is key, as some parents may be reluctant to accept help initially. By initiating these discussions and maintaining an open line of communication, you plant a seed for future conversations and opportunities for support.