Dementia Expert

When Your Parents Need Help


As your parent ages, you may see changes in physical activity, medication tolerance, memory, vision and hearing. As long as these don’t significantly interfere with usual daily living activities, we call them ‘expected and acceptable’ changes.

However, if they are so severe that your mother can no longer safely evacuate her home in an emergency, manage her own dressing, walking, eating, bathing, toileting, or transferring from her bed to a chair, you need to intervene.

These problem areas indicate a need for assistance:

  • Consider your parent’s physical safety. Each of us can fall, but few healthy people fall or trip repeatedly. If your parent has cuts or bruises and can’t explain why, she needs your help.
  • Can your parent hear and respond to fire or smoke alarms, telephone rings, or doorbells? If she has hearing difficulties and refuses to wear a hearing aid that fits and works, this may be a good time to intervene.
  • Is your parent able to follow directions for sequential tasks with­out getting confused? “Come in, take your coat off, and hang it in the closet”contains three sequential tasks. If she is having trouble with these or other day-to-day tasks, she needs your help.
  • Consider your parent’s ability to see clearly. Does he need brighter light or can he no longer read due to vision loss? If your parent is losing vision and refuses to acknowledge or treat the problem, he needs your help.
  • If you notice a change in your parent’s speech patterns or you see involuntary body movements, your parent needs your immediate help to obtain a medical diagnosis and treatment.
  • If your parent’s judgement is impaired, he may be handling his financial affairs inappropriately. Look for a significant increase or decrease in the number and amount of withdrawals or checks.
  • If your parent has become incontinent, changed her personal grooming habits, or lost interest in regular bathing, clean clothes, hair, and nails, she needs your help for a medical diagnosis and treatment.
  • If your parent has become more confused or forgetful, is unreasonably anxious, cries frequently, or exhibits major irrational mood changes, intervene and help him obtain medical help.

Read onAging in Place

Check our Safety Quiz for a better understanding of your parent’s status and risk factors 

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The information provided on this website is offered with the understanding that the authors are not engaged in rendering financial, legal, or medical advice. Readers who require such advice should not use this website as a replacement for professional counsel, but instead should seek the services of licensed financial, legal, and medical professionals.
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