Knowing when it’s no longer safe for an aging parent to live at home isn’t straightforward, and the red flags aren’t always obvious. Things like exhaustion and hygiene are hard to identify when a parent is living alone. Even if your parent has suffered a fall or other injury, the desire to preserve independence for as long as possible is a strong force, too.
Let’s explore some of the obvious and not-so-obvious signs that a parent or loved one is struggling to safely live at home. Keep an eye out for these issues, and be prepared to have a conversation about other options if needed.

The biggest warning signs your parent isn’t safe at home

  • Falls and other injuries, leaving cooking appliances on, and confusion about medications are all clear signs of being unsafe at home. Other signs are more subtle:
  • Unexplained weight loss. Oftentimes, sudden and unexpected weight loss indicates a serious problem. Your parent might be struggling with cooking or forgetting to eat meals. Underlying medical issues that need to be addressed and monitored could also be a factor in weight loss.
  • Lackluster hygiene. When cognitive decline is an issue, a senior can forget to complete all of the steps required to stay clean and tidy. Depression and social isolation can also exacerbate hygiene problems.
  • Exhaustion. There are many reasons a senior might be exhausted, ranging from medical issues to difficulty keeping up with daily chores.
  • Stacks of unopened mail. If bills and other correspondence is piling up, be sure to check on your aging parent’s health and wellbeing. Cognitive impairment can cause seniors to forget about bills. Walking to the mailbox can also be a daunting undertaking.
  • A messy, cluttered home. Dirty dishes in the sink, spoiled food, accumulated rubbish, neglected laundry, and filthy bathrooms can all be signs that your parent needs more support maintaining their living quarters.

Note that these signs will be unique to each individual senior. For example, if a clean house was never a top priority for mom or dad, domestic messes may not be a clear indication of an unsafe living situation.

Speaking to your parent about moving into assisted or independent living

Sometimes, intuition tells you that your parent or loved one needs more support than what’s available at home. Making the decision to transition into senior living is never easy, and it can be a tough conversation to have.

Many children of aging parents have learned how to approach the topic of senior living communities with love and empathy. For some pointers you can use in your family’s journey, read the suggestions in this guide on speaking to your loved one about transitioning into senior living.

As a local nonprofit, The Argyle has brought high quality and affordable care to Denver’s seniors since 1874. To this day, our caring team remains committed to encouraging independence and preserving the dignity of every resident who calls our community home.