Is your loved one struggling? How would you know?

The world has changed for us all over the past few months and no one really understands what their new normal is anymore. It’s quite possible that your frequent visits to your loved ones homes have been reduced to doorstep drop offs and daily phone calls.

So how would you know if they are struggling right now? Below are some early warning signs that we know can suggest a senior isn’t doing too well. In our current climate, it’s hard to know if your parent is eating OK or managing their medications. Do your best with phone calls to try and probe a little as to what they’re up to, or if you’re able to video call, ask them to show you around if that’s possible. If you are still visiting, with precautions, bear in mind the following which could be a sign that they’re failing to cope.

1- Housework is neglected: It could be obvious such as newspapers stacked in the living room or it could be less obvious such as dirty bathrooms and unchanged sheets. Neglecting housework could be a sign of physical decline and mental decline. It can become unhygienic quickly and increase the risk of illness.

2- Personal hygiene is neglected: Things such as wearing the same clothing for several days, infrequent bathing, not shaving and not brushing teeth. These can all be warning signs for cognitive decline or depression.

3- Medication mismanagement: Things to observe would be blister packs with random days used and others unopened or full blister packs or pill bottles, or sometimes tablets on the floor. Managing medication can be difficult especially when taking several medications, several times a day. If you are noticing your aging parent is not able to manage the medication on their own this can be extremely dangerous.

4- Unused upper or lower levels: If your mom or dad is living in a multi-level house, check if the upstairs and downstairs are being used. Another sign to look out for, is a slept on the couch or chair. If they are using any type of assisted device such as a walker or cane, ask them how they use the stairs. Not being able to use the stairs safely can be a major fall risk, especially if they live alone.

5- Have not left the house in a long time: Right now, this is not being encouraged, so it’s tricky to use this as an example, but social isolation is common in older adults and can result in other health conditions and a rapid health decline. Making sure you’re keeping in touch, as frequently as you can, can be of huge benefit. Out of the Covid-19 restrictions, checking to see when they were last in touch with friends, or went to a social program; went for a walk, went to church etc can give you some indication as to their enthusiasm and engagement.

6- Empty fridge and cupboard: Again, it may be that you’re helping out by doing grocery shopping for your parent and therefore know what items they’ll have in their fridge and cupboards. Are they eating them though or is prepping for meals too much? Ask them how they enjoyed a specific item you bought, or if you’re making meals for them, if they could tell that you’d changed the recipe for example. A lack of appetite can indicate depression or cognitive decline, and a disinterest in making food or preferring something frozen or tinned, can indicate it’s too hard to follow instructions or to do any food prep. Accessing food could also be their problem, if you’re out of town and they’re having to rely on transportation to get to the stores. Delivery services are becoming far more popular and there are many community groups at the moment pooling together to offer grocery shopping and delivery to those most viulnerable.

When visiting or chatting with your aging parent if you’re noticing any of these warning signs it is important to have a conversation with them about it and not just ignore it. All of these warning signs alone and in combination can be a sign that they are not able to cope at home anymore.

Whether they are in denial about it or seeking assistance a Senior Living Advisor can help. We can facilitate that conversation between you and your mom or dad and help guide the conversation about what life might be like if they were to live at a Retirement Home or in Assisted Living. We can also help educate about what aging at home can look like and help get resources in place to ensure your parent is safe while staying at home, with the addition of home care, companionship, meal preparation and cleaning services.

If a Retirement Home is the preferred option or something you’d like to explore, we’re able to quickly provide you with information, pricing, care support levels and other information to help you make informed decisions today, with the future in mind.

Next Steps?
Call us at 613-421-6073 or email

We provide the following free services:

1 – Rapid Resources & Referrals.
2 – In Person Visits (Zoom calls or phone chats right now unfortunately as we all socially distance).
3 – Arrange and Escort on Tours (again, we can provide virtual tours and presentations or get pictures of specific accommodations and living areas sent to you).
4 – Advocacy during the selection and move in process.
5 – Resources for additional services.