.....but how do we spot the trouble signs when they first show up in our loved ones?
It’s sort of like noticing wear and tear on a car. When the first thing wears out, you start noticing lots of other things. “I never noticed so many of those rattles before”, you might say to yourself. Your consciousness of the problem is raised. You’re aware. You spot other signs because you’ve spent time thinking about the age of the car. It’s the same with our parents. We need to think about their vulnerabilities, the changes in their habits, the wear and tear of life. We need to raise our own consciousness.
What should we be looking for? We should be checking out our parents for things that are subtly or obviously different from what we’re used to seeing in them. Memory problems are the first and early warning signs. Did Mom forget a part of the meal, or lose track of cooking? Are there unopened bills on the kitchen table? Is the yard or house in disrepair? Did either parent forget that we were coming to visit?
All of these may be signs of early disease process, depression or other conditions that need our attention and our action. We must not fear insulting our parents by asking them about what we observe. It’s a loving act to bring it up in a respectful way. We can’t stand idly by pretending that nothing is changed. Families who do this may end up with parents who have been financially abused, due to dementia, or whose parents are seriously neglected. Parents may be less able to care properly for themselves lately and it’s up to us to protect them as best we can.
From AgingParents.com, here are Ten Warning Signs Your Parent Needs Help Handling Money. Look for them on your next visit:
- You find late notices from a utility company, cable TV, or other monthly recurring bill in your parents’ home.
- Your aging parent repeats himself or herself in speaking to you, telling you the same thing or asking the same thing over and over in a single conversation.
- Your aging parent shows signs of unusual paranoia, suspicion, or mistrust of something or someone he/she has always trusted. (It could be you!)
- You aging parent has a new “friend” who is hanging around a lot, and seems to pressure your parent into doing things he/she would not normally do, including writing checks.
- Your parent is not well groomed as she has always been. You see dirty clothing, unkempt hair, or other clues that she has forgotten to take care of herself.
- Your parent is suddenly very interested in contests, sweepstakes, and other “get rich quick” offerings and has been giving out personal information and his phone number to enter them.
- There is a change in your parent’s giving habits for charitable organizations, which have resulted in large, unusual contributions, out of the norm for your parent.
- Your parent is recently widowed, and has never handled the family finances before. She is avoiding the subject of money.
- Your aging parent is socially isolated, due to losses, by geography or by choice. There is little activity outside the home and he seems lonely.
- Your aging parent has always been proud, stubborn and secretive about money. Even though he’s having trouble keeping track of his bills, he strongly resists asking for your help.