You love your mom dearly and have always admired her pride and independence. A few years ago your dad passed away, and now that your mother is in her late 70s you’re concerned about her living alone. You’re sure that she could use some help taking care of her home, but you live over 3 hours away and only see her about once a month. And, you have your own household and job to manage. As her only daughter, you feel frustrated and would like to do more.

Mom just hasn’t seemed like herself on the phone lately, and you suspect she’s feeling lonely. In fact, the last time you visited she just didn’t look right, and the house was cluttered. What should you do? Discussing some home care with your mom too soon could put her on the defensive. To ensure the timing is right, look for these signs.

Physical Signs

If your mom is feeling lonely and depressed, she’s probably not eating well. Does she look thinner and frail? How does she feel when you hug her? Is she having trouble driving? In addition to those physical signs, here are some others to look for:

  • Bruises and cuts. These typically indicate falls and accidents, although your mom may deny they’ve happened. For seniors, stairs and the bathroom can be the most dangerous areas of the home.
  • Poor grooming and hygiene. Is your mom’s appearance being kept up like before? Look for stained and disheveled clothing, along with unkempt hair, body odor and other poor grooming indicators.
  • Diminished mobility. Does it seem like your mom is having trouble getting around, notably on stairs? Is she having a hard time getting up and down when sitting? Nearly all seniors experience diminished mobility at some point.

An Unkept Home

Having trouble staying up with house and yard is another red flag that your mom could use some help around her home. A lack of mobility, feeling depressed, or even the onset of cognitive impairment can all interfere with a senior’s ability to carry out rou