Health & Safety Checklist When Visiting Elderly Parents

There are many adult children caring for or supporting elderly parents who are still living independently in their own homes. This can be especially stressful for the adult child if they have their own family to care for and/or their own career. In those situations, making the time to visit those elderly parents can become a fast ‘drive-by’, due to those other responsibilities.

This multi-tasking of care between all of the competing responsibilities can also be very emotional… often making one feel guilty for not giving the time and attention that each area requires. 

And with aging parents, you want to be able to help them to be safe and healthy as they age in place. And many of the variables that contribute to their health and safety are not always apparent. 

Because of that, we have developed the following checklist for you to use when you are visiting elderly parents. This checklist can help you to stay focused on their ability to continue to live independently.

Remember, that you are visiting your parents which means that you do not want to insult or berate them for behavior or conditions that don’t appear safe or healthy. Keep your ‘’inspection’ and this checklist to yourself, so that they don’t begin to feel that they are being ‘handled’ or ‘managed’. Try not to reverse roles with them as it may only cause needless tension.

Your main goal is to quietly observe and take notes. Once you understand the full picture, you can start an informed conversation about changes that might need to be made. And these observations and notes will help you to communicate more clearly and accurately when the time arrives to speak with a support/medical professional. 

Visiting Elderly Parents Home checklist

Concerning Physical and Mental Health Conditions

  • Has your parent(s) weight noticeably increased or decreased?
  • Do they appear frail and/or weaker than normal?
  • Do you notice any new behaviors like being confused about simple tasks or repeating themselves?
  • Are they having (more than usual) difficulties getting in and out of chairs?
  • Are their eating habits changing? Eating less or more? Eating at unusual times?

Concerning their Mobility

  • If they are still driving, do you feel safe when they drive you around? (Consider not volunteering to drive them to errands or doctor’s appointments. Go with them as a passenger, so that you can observe them behind the wheel.)
  • Has the condition of their vehicle changed? Are there unexplained dents or scratches on the vehicle?
  • Have you heard of any traffic tickets?

Concerning their Social Interactions

  • Have they stopped activities that they used to enjoy?
  • Are they reluctant to leave their home?
  • Are they staying in touch with family and friends?

Concerning the Condition of the Home

  • Has their home become dirtier and/or messier than normal?
  • Does it appear that they are not attending to their mail and/or bill payments?
  • Are there unresolved maintenance issues around the home – like broken fixtures or appliances, clogged drains?
  • Is the refrigerator stocked with fresh foods that would be in their normal diet?
  • Is there old or moldy food in the kitchen?
  • Are there any burn marks on the countertops or floor?
  • Are the dishes being cleaned regularly?

Concerning Medications

  • Are there any new medications, vitamins, or supplements you haven’t seen before?
  • Is their medication organized so it’s easy to take the correct dose at the correct time?
  • Are expired medications mixed up with current ones?

None of these checklist items alone warrant a ‘rescue’. But, when several of these conditions begin to appear, it might be time to have a serious discussion with a trusted medical professional to ensure that the elderly parent is not experiencing new medical and/or cognitive issues. 

And at some point, these concerns will force a conversation with the elderly parents about seeking alternative housing. In many cases, this would not mean moving in with another family member. It would be preferable to consider an assisted living environment where trained personnel would be in close proximity to them.

When that day comes, don’t try to handle the process of relocating your parent(s) by yourself. Seek out a professional Senior Living Advisor for a free initial consultation. And in many cases, their relocation and placement services are ‘no cost’ to the family.