Caring for your ageing parents also means looking out for warning signs that can indicate more serious health issues. We help you identify four main areas of concern.
As our parents age, they become increasingly prone to health issues and accidents. A little extra vigilance can go a long way in helping them deal with health challenges.
As guardians of our parents’ health and well-being, we need to be able to recognise age-related health warning signs, bringing them to a doctor’s attention before they worsen. Here are four red flags to note:
Alert #1: They Look Unkempt
Your parents’ appearance can be revealing. If they start looking dishevelled or their level of hygiene drops, it might indicate that they’re unable to keep up with their daily routines, requiring a visit to the doctor. As with an increasingly messy house, such signscould point to mental health issues such as emerging
dementia or depression. At the inaugural Annual Singapore Conference on Ageing 2012, it was estimated that the number of elderly aged 60 years and above with dementia was expected to reach 80,000 by 2030. The good news is that early intervention plays a vital role in helping manage both dementia and depression.
Alert #2: Pain in Multiple Spots
According to the Singapore Heart Foundation, every day, 16 people in Singapore die from cardiovascular disease (heart disease and stroke). Many of us don’t realise that there are many other warning signs of heart problems besides the commonly known symptom of chest pain. Pay attention if your parents complain about pain in their upper limbs, back, neck, jaw or even stomach. When coupled with persistent shortness of breath, breaking out in cold sweat and/or nausea, it’s time for a cardiovascular screening — the sooner the better.
Alert #3: Twitching Limbs
The next time you spend a day with your parents or hold mum or dad’s hand while on an evening stroll, pay attention to tremors, twitching, difficulties in walking, a lowered speaking volume or the frequent appearance of a blank facial expression (known as ‘masked face’) coupled with fewer eye blinks. These could be early signs of Parkinson’s disease, a disorder of the nervous system that affects movement. According to Singapore’s National Neuroscience Institute, Parkinson’s disease is the second most common neurodegenerative disorder in the country, with three out of every thousand individuals aged 50 years and above diagnosed with this condition.
Alert #4: Face Droops on One Side
This is a medical emergency: if you notice mum or dad’s face drooping on one side or realise that her or his smile is suddenly lopsided, pick up the phone and dial 995 immediately. These are signs of a stroke. Other possible symptoms could be numbness in the face or limbs and slurred speech. According to the National Neuroscience Institute, stroke is Singapore’s fourth leading cause of death. Timely intervention could mean the difference between saving and losing your loved one.
Keep an eye open at all times for any of the above warning signs in your ageing parents. To be doubly safe, make sure your parents are protected against medical emergencies. With adequate coverage and your dedicated care, your parents can be assured that they are as prepared as possible for any health challenges.