If I had a dollar for every time I heard someone say, ‘where has the time gone?’ I can guarantee you that I would be fairly wealthy!

When we are young, it sometimes seems as though time stands still. This is especially true when we are waiting to celebrate our 6th or 7th birthday. Then, before we know it we’ve completed our middle years schooling, finished high school and then all of a sudden we’re adults and making plans for the future.

This whole time it seems nearly impossible to imagine our parents in any other way then how they are at those momentous times in our lives. However, before we know it we’re celebrating their 30th anniversary, maybe even their 40th, and then their 65th, 70th and 80th birthdays.

While we often take the time to plan special family events and celebrate milestones, what we sometimes overlook is what’s happening day-to-day with our parents. Then, it seems without notice that you and your siblings are faced with having to make life-altering decisions, whether it be health related or otherwise, on their behalf.

If possible, try to plan ahead so that you’re not forced to make quick decisions that may leave your parents in a situation that isn’t positive or to their liking. As time passes, have discussions with them on what they desire in the future and watch for signs for when it might be time to choose alternative housing arrangements to ensure they are safe and comfortable.

Some key things to take note of are:

  • If the house or yard was previously clean and meticulous, are everyday tasks now neglected?
  • Does it appear as though your parent is able to bathe themselves? Are they still neatly groomed and in different clothing when you come to visit?
  • Do they say that they eat healthy, well-balanced meals or has the food in their refrigerator gone bad?
  • Have you noticed bruising, a slight limp or complaints of aches and pains that may have been the result of a fall or numerous falls?
  • Have you noticed that medications are expired and unused?
  • Are they becoming less social?

If you’ve identified some or all of these signs, then it may be time to look at other living arrangements. There are different options available. Some families will choose to renovate their home to include a mother-in-law suite; others may choose a personal care home, independent senior housing or assisted living.

Regardless of what family members decide, it’s important to ensure that your parents are well cared for, that they have all the amenities they need, and that they are able to continue living a life that is fulfilling, interesting and meaningful.