8 Signs Your Aging Parent Likely Needs More Support

You love your aging parent, and you’re concerned about their well-being.

Over the past few months or years, you’ve started noticing some problematic changes. Maybe they seem more forgetful or disheveled or erratic in their behavior. Perhaps, at the same time, you’re not sure if these changes are developmentally appropriate- or if they signify a serious problem.

Here are some red flags indicating your loved one may need additional support. 

Significant Mood Changes

Is your parent acting differently towards you or other people? For example, do they seem more depressed, anxious, disoriented, or fatigued than usual? Are they socially withdrawing from their typical relationships or hobbies?

Significant mood changes can be temporary (especially if your parent is navigating a new stressor). But if you don’t know the identified cause- and the changes continue to persist- it may be a sign they need more support.

Remember that it’s important to recognize that your loved one may not be aware of these changes. Defensiveness, denial, and irritation are normal responses to being confronted. Similarly, even if you express your genuine concern, they dismiss their changes as a normal part of life.

Increased Clutter or Dirtiness

Has the condition of your parent’s home gradually declined over the years? Have you noticed concerning items, like expired food or old trash lying around? Are they engaging in hoarding behaviors?

Maintaining a home is a large task, and if your parent is showing signs of difficulty in this area, it could mean several things. For example, mobility problems can make daily chores feel daunting. Memory issues can impact tracking perishable goods. Furthermore, depression or loneliness can exacerbate symptoms related to hoarding or clutter. 


Mild forgetfulness can represent a normal part of the aging process, but severe memory problems can indicate other medical issues.

Some memory signs indicating your loved one may need additional support include:

  • getting lost or disoriented in familiar places
  • repeatedly asking the same questions over and over again
  • having difficulty following specific directions or tasks
  • forgetting familiar people or places
  • losing track of dates, times, or years
  • having difficulty maintaining an ordinary conversation

Improper Medication Management

When it comes to aging parents, medication adherence often represents a critical component in maintaining one’s overall health. Therefore, skipping doses, taking too much medication, or mixing up pills can cause serious problems.

Unfortunately, research shows that about 15% of older adults have issues managing their medication. If you’ve noticed this problem in your parent, it’s likely they need additional support.

Worsening Mobility Problems

Mobility problems can make ordinary tasks feel overwhelming or even impossible. If your parent tries to engage in activities despite their limitations, they may be at an increased risk for injuries. Unfortunately, research shows that 25% of older adults fall each year, accounting for more than 32,000 deaths. 

Sometimes, medication, physical therapy, or other lifestyle changes can improve mobility. In other cases, your loved one may need more physical aid or interpersonal support. 

Dangerous, Reckless Behavior

Sometimes, older adults unknowingly put themselves in risky situations. Such situations may include:

  • driving recklessly
  • leaving burning stoves or candles unattended
  • consuming expired food or medication
  • engaging in physically strenuous activities (despite limited mobility)

These situations may occur because your parent doesn’t register them as dangerous. For example, they might not recognize declining eyesight or spatial awareness, which makes driving challenging. Or, they may not even know that the food they consumed was expired.

However, if this is an ongoing pattern, intervention is important. These behaviors can be serious and even life-threatening. 

Poor Hygiene 

How well does your parent take care of themselves? Are they showering or bathing regularly? Are they keeping their nails clean, hair tidied, and clothes washed? 

If not, they may need more help. Poor hygiene can be a sign of many conditions, but this form of self-neglect may not improve on its own. In fact, many times, without intervention, it progressively worsens. 

Missing Important Appointments or Tasks

Did your parent miss their last doctor’s appointment? Have they neglected to do the dishes for several days? Were they supposed to call you last Sunday, but they completely forgot?

Missing routine tasks or appointments may signify memory problems, depression, or other health issues. If it’s a recurrent trend, it’s important that your parent receives an appropriate evaluation.

How Does Therapy Help With Aging Parent Concerns?

Coping with your aging parent’s changes can be challenging. Many adults feel overwhelmed trying to take care of their parents while also managing their normal, everyday lives. If you feel anxious, depressed, or guilty, remember that you are not alone. These are all typical feelings people experience during this process.

With that in mind, therapy can offer support and reassurance during this time. But, even if you’re taking care of your parent, it’s also essential that you take care of yourself. Together, we can work towards achieving that crucial balance. Contact me today to get started. 


4601 Spicewood Springs Road Building 3, Suite 200
Austin, TX 78759

(512) 988-3363

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