What does self-neglect look like?
For many, the moment of realization that your parent needs help comes during a visit. You might notice that Mom or Dad’s clothes are dirty, they haven’t bathed, or they’ve lost weight. There could be clutter everywhere, spoiled food in the fridge, or dirty dishes all over the kitchen. These are signs your parents need help.
Why is self-neglect a problem?
Living in the kinds of conditions described above are bad for your senior’s health. They could easily trip and fall, maybe breaking a hip. They could eat rotten food and make themselves very sick. They could develop infections from not keeping themselves clean. All these issues can also lead to more complications down the road.
What does this mean for you?
If you bring up your concerns to your parent, they’ll probably say there’s nothing wrong and they don’t need any help. That’s frustrating. Many seniors are in denial about needing help because they don’t want to lose their independence.
The best way to help without offending your parent or making them defensive is to simply be around more often. Don’t tell them that you’re coming over because you want to check on them to make sure they’re ok – that might make them angry.
Instead, come up with reasons to stop by more frequently. Maybe you need to replace that burned out light bulb. Or unclog that slow drain. Work slowly on little tasks so you have good reasons to be around. When you stop by, try to clean up the house and encourage your parent to bathe, eat, and take their medication.
Try saying something like “Hey Mom, while I change this light bulb, why don’t you take a quick bath.” Or maybe “Why don’t we make something to eat. I’m getting hungry and I want you to taste this new pasta recipe my friend gave me.”
If you live far away, ask a friend or neighbor to stop by regularly. If nobody you trust lives close by, consider hiring a geriatric care manager and introducing them as a friend.
Whether it’s you that visits your older adult more often or you get help, the only way to help your parent is to keep a closer eye on the situation. Perhaps they need more socialization to get out of a funk. Or maybe this is a sign of a more serious issue. Either way, spending more time at their house will help your older adult live more safely and will help you figure out what to do next.
By DailyCaring Editorial Staff
Image: Matched CareGivers