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Unexpected & Unacceptable Changes in Senior Health

Judie Rappaport
September 5, 2014

Dear Judie,


Years ago, Mom (85) and I had a wonderful discussion about her moving in with my family when she was no longer safe at home. Now she’s refusing to leave her home for my house or to move to assisted living. She says, “I’m staying right here in my own home until something happens that proves I need to move.” I’m thinking something has already happened: she keeps losing weight, isn’t always clean, and doesn’t seem interested in activities with her friends anymore. My brother Eddie says she’s tired and eats less because she’s 85. How do I know if he’s right or she needs help?

- Kate, Hobe Sound 


Dear Kate, 


Deciding whether to intervene in a parent’s life is always difficult. Certain changes are expected and acceptable as we age; intervention is necessary when the changes are unexpected and unacceptable. These beginning guidelines can start the process to help determine if Mom’s at risk or safe and enjoying her quality of life, even if her way of doing things differs from what you’d like/expect her to do.


  • We would expect an 85 year old to have less energy than a 75 year old. However, losing interest in the family she loves would be unexpected. 
  • If Mom’s been ill or is frail, we would expect her social life to diminish. If she’s been active and is suddenly too weak/tired to go out, that’s unexpected and she needs medical attention.  
  • If Mom’s weight has been steady for years, we would expect her to maintain a similar weight and appetite. A loss/gain of 10 pounds is unexpected and may be caused by depression, confusion (forgetting to eat), dental problems that cause pain when she eats, or other serious issues.  
  • If Mom’s personal hygiene patterns have remained the same for years, we would expect her to continue her grooming. An unexpected change signifies potential problems like cognitive impairment or fear of falling in the shower/tub.  


These possibilities all point toward Mom needing help. Begin with a complete medical exam ASAP to determine the cause and start treatment to resolve Mom's "unexpected & unacceptable" changes. 



Judie Rappaport, President & Founder
Preferred Lifestyle Services

Trust Yourself. You Have the Knowledge, Insight,
and Power to make the right decisions for you and your parent. ©


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