Deciding when mom or dad is no longer capable of remaining in their own home is a miserable task.  From my experience, people often wait too long to have that taboo discussion with their parents.  I thought I would share my thoughts, in hopes that it will be useful for some people that may be struggling with this.

Try asking yourself these questions:

Is mom safe at home alone? Cognitive functioning is probably the most important thing to look at here.  You want to make sure mom is capable of recognizing danger.  If she recognizes danger, would she act appropriately in the event of an emergency?  Would she know when, and how to dial 911, or to call you? Some memory loss and confusion is a normal byproduct of aging, but does mom remember to turn off the stove after making something? Is she physically capable of removing herself from a dangerous situation?

Is mom getting the nourishment that she needs to stay healthy?  People who live alone generally don’t eat as well. Watch for weight loss. Consider meals on wheels if she isn’t already participating in it. She should go to the Senior Center for lunch if she can. The Senior Center Bus will pick her up.  That way she gets some socialization and a great meal. How are her meals when she doesn’t get meals on wheels? What does she fix for herself to eat? Is mom drinking enough water?

Is someone able to check on Mom regularly?  Social interaction is a very important part of a person’s health. Does mom or dad get regular visits from friends, family or neighbors? If you can’t check on mom regularly, is there another family member who does or can?  Depending on your level of concern for her, you may want to check-in a couple of times a day- but you should be looking in on your elderly parents at the very least once each week. A phone call is good, but you can learn a lot by physically visiting.

Is mom taking her medications correctly?  This is a big one. When you have a lot of pills to take morning noon and night, medication can be very difficult. Taking medications incorrectly can cause more confusion, lethargy, weakness, falls, loss of appetite, nausea, to name just a few things.

It’s frightening to approach aged parents directly about this, and so we often avoid the discussion as long as possible. If any of this hits home for you, I strongly encourage you to call a family meeting and discuss it. Consider all of your options. Talk to their doctor. Voice your concerns to them directly.  Tell them how much you love them and that you are worried about them.  The longer you wait to act, the more limited your options become. If you are worried about your loved one and have concerns with any of these things, it’s time to explore your options. 

Chad Szymanski is the Administrator at the Bee Hive Homes, Assisted Living Facilities in Kanab, Page, AZ and two locations in St. George.  Questions or comments email:  or call (928) 660-0681