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Some Signs That Mom or Dad May Need Extra Help
by Brandee Cowley, RN BSN, Apostolic Christian Skylines Home Care Services

For many of us the holidays are a time for family to get together to celebrate. They are a chance for older parents and grandparents to spend time with family members and get caught up with the lives of their children and grandchildren. They are also a time for busy sons and daughters who are not able to see their parents as often as they would like to catch up on how they’re getting along in their lives.

Sometimes there are surprises and they discover that there issues with their parents’ ability to care for themselves and live independently in the community. Following are some commonly seen issues.


Warning Signs

  1. Weight loss, which could be the result of difficulty shopping for food, difficulty cooking, or problems with planning activities.
  2. Home generally unkempt: carpets not vacuumed, clutter, carpet stains, and unwashed laundry may indicate problems with maintaining their home.  
  3. Unpaid bills piling up, stacks of unopened mail, checks written to unknown people or companies may be a sign of problems handing finances.
  4. Nearly empty refrigerator and cabinets, lack of food needed for a balanced diet, and burned pots and pans could be a sign of inability to plan, difficulty shopping and problems preparing food.
  5. Driving difficulties, unexplained automobile dents & scratches, or difficulties using public transportation may be indications of difficulty moving about in the community independently.
  6. Unfilled or unopened prescription bottles and mixing up or forgetting to take medications are signs that there is a serious problem managing medications.

The following signs concern the everyday personal care activities that are fundamental to taking care of oneself and maintaining independence.

  1. Dressing: unable to dress without assistance, dressing inappropriately for the weather.
  2. Eating: skipping meals, problems eating independently.
  3. Walking and transferring: holds walls, furniture or any other help, black and blue marks from falls, problems sitting down on a bed or a chair and standing up without help.
  4. Toileting: ableto take off and put on clothes, and sit down and get up from the toilet and clean onesself without help.
  5. Personal hygiene: wearing dirty clothes, body odor, bad breath, neglected nails and teeth, and sores on the skin.

I see some warning signs. Now what?

  1. If you haven’t already, check in with your parent’s health care provider. How long has it been since mom or dad has had an appointment? Try to accompany them to their next appointment if possible.
  2. Problem-solve. Some issues may addressed with changes in the home. Clutter elimination, adaptive devices for bathing and hygiene, Meals on Wheels, etc. can be viable solutions for some of the above.
  3. Get help. Call the Central Illinois Area Agency on Aging (309-674-2071) for an in-home assessment. Your mom or dad may be entitled to services from one of the senior services agencies in Peoria County.
  4. If mom or dad isn’t entitled to services from the Area Agency, get in touch with a licensed home care agency, which can provide assistance with nearly all the problems listed above and may provide an in-home evaluation and safety check at no charge. Make sure the agency is licensed by the Illinois Department of Public Health.

AC Skylines Home Care provides in–home care and nursing services. For more information and a no–charge consultation, call AC Skylines Home Care Services at (309) 689–5343 or send email to Visit or

Apostolic Christian Skylines’ continuing care retirement community offers senior living options ranging from independent living to skilled nursing care. For more information, call Apostolic Christian Skylines at (309) 683-2500 or send email to Visit or

Apostolic Christian Skylines Home Care

2001 W Willow Knolls Drive, Suite 203
Peoria, IL 61614

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