5 Signs your elderly parents are struggling to cope

Posted: 29th January 2018

5 Signs your elderly parents are struggling to cope

Winter can be a cold and dull place for many older people. Even we can find it hard to make and stick to new resolutions, even though we know we’d be better off! Many of the families we support tell us they struggle to tell their parents what they think is best for them. Mum and dad would just rather stay home (and usually let the family run ragged around them!). If you have found yourself in this position, it’s easy to feel disheartened and to feel like giving into them.

Now, new research from Kings College London has confirmed what Orchard House has been saying from day one: day centres deliver valued outcomes, such as promoting wellbeing and supporting older people to retain their independence.

Two of the main reasons for older people’s decline are depression and dementia.

Depression or low mood can set in when older people start feeling lonely, which can often follow on from the loss of a loved one. Loneliness can also be caused by deteriorating physical abilities, making it harder for them to get out and about. Likewise, dementia can also lead to social isolation as a person’s social networks and abilities diminish.


It often takes a crisis to spearhead the tricky conversation of mum or dad needing more help (or of you needing a break). Because they’re afraid they’ll be pulled away from their home comforts and marched to the nearest nursing home, older people are often afraid to admit they are lonely, or that they are not coping.

5 Signs that may mean mum or dad are struggling:

  • Is their home not as clean and tidy as it used to be? Housework can become harder as mobility and vision changes.
  • Are they taking less pride in their appearance? If you’ve noticed that mum or dad always seem to be in the same, scruffy or dirty clothes, or that they seem to be paying less attention to personal hygiene, there’s probably an underlying problem such as physical difficulties or self-neglect.
  • Are there piles of unpaid bills laying around? Forgetting to pay bills can be a sign of disorganisation, forgetfulness and an inability to cope.
  • Are they cooking less? If you’ve noticed your mum or dad have suddenly started relying on ready meals or seem to have lost weight, it could be a sign of loneliness and depression. Low mood often results in food becoming a low priority.
  • Are they forgetting to take medication? This can have serious implications, and if you’ve noticed they’ve been missing doses or overdosing, alarm bells should be ringing! You should contact your GP and pharmacist to try and resolve the issue, which can be a result of failing to cope or self-neglect.

Any of the above pointers can indicate that something is wrong, and that as a carer for your mum or dad, your workload is increasing!

At Orchard House, we understand the difficulties carers face, and we help by listening to your needs. Our friendly team is experienced at coaxing even the most reluctant mums and dads to give our support a try.