As a young child you imagine your parents to be invincible. You look up to them as superheroes with answers to all questions and solutions to all problems. This perception wanes AS we grow older; however it is still very difficult to see one’s parents’ age. The role reversal of care giving from the parent to the child is challenging for both parties. Helping parents adjust to old age is a fine art of adjustment and balance. As a child, it is difficult to watch a parent struggle with the challenges of old age and yet strive to maintain his/her independence. There are some give away signs that you need to keep in mind to know if your parents require closer attention.

Are they looking after themselves?

Pay close attention to your parents’ appearance. Are they dressing themselves appropriately? Are their clothes washed? Are they facing trouble with daily chores like bathing, brushing etc. if they live independently, it is also important to note if they can adequately handle all the challenges of maintaining a house. Are the lights working? Are the plants in the garden dead or overgrown? Are the rooms well-kempt or messy? A big change in the upkeep of the house or in self-care can be an indication of a mental illness such as dementia, depression or other medical concerns.

Do they seem ‘blue’?

Geriatric depression is a very common disorder in the older population. Life-transitions like retirement, separation from children, loss of spouse, ill-health etc. leave the older adults susceptible to loneliness and depression. Are they interested in activities like they used to be? Do they seem to be getting adequate sleep and appetite? Do they seem listless and tired to you? If they seem to be in a persistently low mood, they might be suffering from depression.

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