By Kelly LaMore, RN

Is your aging parent or loved one skipping meals, not bathing, or skipping medications? Are they having trouble walking or balancing, or forgetting important details?

As a care coordinator for elders with multiple chronic health conditions and the daughter of an aging parent, I understand the challenges associated with noticing your loved one’s first symptoms of cognitive and physical decline. Here are some tips to help determine the next steps.

  1. Trust Your Instincts. Your loved one might say, “I don’t need medications.” Your siblings may say, “Dad’s memory’s okay.” But, if you think something is wrong, investigate further to be safe. It’s more common to err on the side of denial than intervening too soon!
  2. Connect with the Primary Care Physician. Reach out to your loved one’s primary care physician to express your concerns. Attend appointments with your parent and establish good lines of communication.
  3. Get “Your Team” Together. Talk with siblings and other caregivers to share perspectives. Those closest in proximity may see more signs of decline. Have honest conversations to establish a plan.
  4. Include Your Parent in the Conversation. Identifying your loved one’s concerns can help with solutions. If Dad’s not eating, is there tooth pain? If Mom’s gait is unsteady, check her vision or ears. My dad’s confidence and independence improved significantly using a walker!
  5. Get Educated. Learn about your loved one’s diagnosed illnesses by checking available resources for ways to better care for them.

Aging safely at home for as long as possible requires ongoing conversations, flexibility, and persistence.

Kelly LaMore, RN is a Health Plans Care Coordinator with VNS Health, serving WNY, the Capital Region, and NYC. Learn more at