Digging through old articles in my inbox led me to this gem from Caring.com. Holiday Spy Kit: 8 Clues Your Aging Parents Aren’t OK

The 3 items that jumped out at me were:

Give a big hug.

Look for:

Obvious weight loss. Anything from depression to cancer to difficulty shopping and cooking can be behind a noticeable loss of weight.

Increased frailty. If you can notice something “different” about a person’s strength and stature just in a hug, it’s noteworthy. Pay close attention to how your loved one walks (shuffles more?) and moves (rises easily from a chair? has trouble with balance?), comparing these benchmarks to the last time you were together.

Obvious weight gain. Injury, diabetes, and dementia (because the person doesn’t remember eating and has meals over and over) might be the cause. So can money troubles that lead to fewer fresh foods, more dried pasta and bread.

Strange body odor. Sad to say, changes in personal grooming habits because of memory trouble or physical ailments might be noticeable on very close inspection. Look, too, for changes in makeup, hair, or the ability to wear clean clothes.

Getting into your parent’s space will give you a lot of information in a short period of time. You simply need to be aware when giving them a big hug.

Inspect the kitchen

Look for:

Perishables past their expiration dates. Your loved one might be buying more than he or she needs, as we all do — but you want to be sure there’s a reasonable ability to ditch the old stuff (rather than use it).

Multiples of the same item. Ten bottles of ketchup or a dozen different vinegars might indicate he or she can’t remember from one shopping trip to the next what’s in the cupboards at home.

Appliances that are broken and haven’t been repaired. Check the microwave, coffeemaker, toaster, washer, and dryer — any device you know your parent used to use routinely.

Signs of past fire. Look for charred stove knobs or pot bottoms, potholders with burned edges, a discharged fire extinguisher, smoke detectors that have been disassembled. Accidents happen — but accidental fires are a common home danger for older adults.

Increased takeout or simpler cooking. If someone who used to cook a lot no longer does or has downshifted to extremely simple recipes, the explanation could be a change in physical or mental ability.

The kitchen is the house or apartment space Encompass likes to keep track of for many of the reasons listed above. Expiration dates and evidence of no one cooking are good indicators of a parent’s mental state.

Notice how the other living things are faring.

Look for:

Plants that are dying, dead, or just gone. How well other life is looked after may reflect how well your parents can look after their own lives.

Animals that don’t seem well tended. Watch out for dogs with long nails, cat litter boxes that aren’t changed routinely, dead fish in the fish tank, or any animal that seems underfed or poorly groomed.

Things in your parent’s life that were once doted on can fall into neglect as they age. Take note as you walk around their living space.

Read the full article here: Holiday Spy Kit: 8 Clues Your Aging Parents Aren’t OK

If you are a caregiver and want to talk to someone with years of experience in this area, call us at 402-991-7399. We’re here to help.