Signs of aging?

I recently went back to see my parents and kept noticing little things and I'm not sure if it's something I should worry about. My mum kept on knocking into stuff while she was walking around the house...corner of the table, the bin etc. And my dad seems to be losing his sense of smell. Is this normal as part of aging?

I don't go home that often so often worry about them getting older.

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8 Replies

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  • It probably is a sign that your parents are starting to become a little more frail and vulnerable, and it is more noticeable if you aren't able to get to see them all that often.

    My best advice as an older person who is going through this process myself, is not to let it develop into a crisis before you take action. Obviously you have to be discreet and tactful, and not treat your parents as if they are incapable of living their own lives already, but maybe it's time to start introducing the idea of eventual walking sticks, rollators etc., to help with mobility.

    As an old person it is something I dread having to start using, but I know the day must come and it's better to be used to the idea now than after I've had a trip to hospital with a broken limb or hip.

    So anything you can introduce to make their lives simpler to live independently will help them a lot.

    Have a look around their home and see if there are any potential trouble-spots such as trip-hazards, the accessibility of kitchen cupboards without climbing steps, using lightweight cleaning methods around the house and meals that can be prepared with less effort.

    I remember my own parents struggling with the filling and cleaning out their coffee machine, but carrying on as though there was no option, until one day I turned up with a jar of Nescafe Gold and revolutionized their coffee drinking. They simply hadn't thought of it.

    It definitely is all the little things that can add up to the bigger picture of independence for longer.

  • Thank you for such a detailed reply Callendersgal . I really appreciate your insight as someone who is so open about being in that situation...I wish my parents could be the same.

    My mum is very stubborn...convinced that now I am grown up and left home that she doesn't really need to worry too much about her health.

    Looking around the house is a good idea and I think a good first step without being too obvious.

    Is there anything that you have done for yourself that you feel has made a difference?

  • Glad to have helped a little.

    I took the big step in downsizing to a small apartment. It is probably much too much for parents who are happy in their own home, who are a bit stubborn anyway, and don't want the upheaval. And it has brought me disadvantages too. One is that my cat is a fugitive as officially now he is outlawed, (but I've got away with this for some time now by being discreet). The other is that moving things to clean at all is a nightmare, and that hobbies are limited to things I can do tidily in one corner.

    On moving, I gave all my loose rugs to a charity shop, dumped my heavy vacuum cleaner in favour of one of those lightweight stick ones, and, although I love home cooked food, I now use frozen convenience meals up to three or four times a week, telling myself that this 'frees me up to go out more', as a way of making me do it. I have a brand spanking new walking stick hanging on my coat hooks, and every time I go out, I ask myself if today is the day I need to start using it. I'm determined that one day I will know I need its help, but so far, so good, without it.

    I'd say don't try to 'take your parents over'. We oldies do see ourselves as still fully functioning (even when we haven't noticed we aren't), and it does take the patience of a saint to try to introduce change to someone who has lived independently for an awful lot of years. Try as far as possible to make them think it's their great idea to have introduced things that make their lives easier.

    But that said, I know it's not at all easy to do, so I wish you the very best of luck. Caring for people who are becoming frailer and dottier by the day is not an easy row to hoe!

  • I agree with everything that Callendersgal has said. I was my mom's care giver for most of my adult life. She had Parkison's w/Dementia. It was hard, I won't lie, to get her to admit that things were "different" than they used to be when it came to what she could and couldn't do. And as unstable as she was, she REFUSED to ever use a cane or walker. She did fine around the house by holding on to walls and furniture, but when she went out someone had to actually hold on to her to keep her up and moving. That was scary! My siblings and I always joked (because you have to have laughter in situations like this!) that she wasn't going to fall on our watch. You just have to try to get them to think that taking new precautions is a good thing and that you aren't trying to run their lives, you just care about their safety and well being. And sometimes that is much easier said than done. :-)

  • freezing park -- Losing a sense of smell can be one of the first symptoms of Parkinson's disease. You might want to look into Parkinson's Caregivers Corner or another Parkinson's forum online. Caregivers Corner is mostly inactive now, but there is always someone there to respond to you. Knocking into things can be a sign of vision deficiency or other problems. It would be good if you could take your parents for medical assessments. Neither of their symptoms is a sign of normal aging. I'm glad you are concerned about them now and may avoid more serious problems later. You may want to start learning what options are available to you if you need to make decisions about their care.

  • Hello freezing park

    It must be difficult given the distance from your parents. Other community posters have given some great practical pointers. You do not say how old your parents are...when did they last have a GP check up? Older folks, even those over 40! in some areas are entitled to a health check just by asking for one. Such a visit can be suggested and accepted diplomatically on the basis of entitlement rather than need because of deterioration. Supportive and loving approach wins over insistence.

  • Thank you so much for all your replies, I will definitely take a look into some of them. My dad is over 70 and my mum is mid-60s and both still mentally very with it. They definitely wouldn't allow me to tell them what to do but hopefully I can start planting the seeds!

  • Your parents are lucky to have such a caring daughter and it must be difficult living away, they are still quite young, I'm nearly 70 and consider myself 'young'. LOL. As MAS_Nurse says patients over 60/65 are entitled to regular health checks at their surgery , BP etc just remind your parents that everyone is entitled to these checks, good luck

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