Caring for Aging Parents Checklist

Do you take care of your aging parents or are you planning to visit your aging parents over the holidays? 

That’s great! Below you will find a checklist for caring for aging parents.

Be sure to look for warning signs of physical or mental health decline while caring for aging parents.

Sure, you must have been checking up on them every week through phone calls that always end with them assuring you that they’re doing great. But unfortunately, many aging parents won’t admit to their children that things have changed since they last visited and that lately, they’ve been facing difficulties performing basic, day-to-day activities.

They may be afraid to lose their sense of independence or perhaps they simply don’t want to add to their children’s worries. In such cases, a holiday visit is a great opportunity to observe your loved ones in-person for any warning signs.

It is important that when caring for aging parents, you keenly observe their living condition as well as their physical and mental health to make sure they aren’t giving you false assurance. They may look fine and it may seem that they’re managing everything quite well but you should look for any signs and clues to ensure that you’re better prepared for the future.

Here’s the ultimate ‘caring for aging parents’ checklist featuring the top 14 signs you should look for when visiting your aging parents over the holidays.

1.  Look for Bounced Checks, Late Payment Notices, and Collection Calls

Bounced checks, late payment notices, and collection calls – these may be a sign that your aging parents are experiencing financial woes and they don’t want you to know about it. It may also indicate they’re suffering from memory loss or early dementia.

Be wary, as this might just be a small sign of the whole disorganization they have been struggling with lately.

2.  Ill-maintained Household and Broken Appliances

Look around the house for any broken appliances, damaged furniture, or piles of clutter.

Do you see they haven’t been running maintenance checks or have failed to recognize the need for doing so?

It may be a sign of a physical or neurological problem. They probably have lost the energy to maintain the household and remove clutter or perhaps their deteriorating memory doesn’t allow them to clean the mess they create.

3.  Unusual Mood Changes or Mood Swings

Make sure you spend sufficient time with your elderly parents on your visit to identify any signs of mood swings. Listen to them carefully and pay attention to their tone and emotions as they talk to you.

If within an hour, their mood shifts from being delighted to being irritated and then to being sad, it may be a red flag.

4.  Dirty, Disorganized Living Area

The house that looked so clean and well-organized on your last visit is now a total mess. What does it mean?

Your aging loved ones may be facing problems with cleaning the house due to mobility issues. It is also possible that some spots are left dirty simply because they can’t see the dirt there. If you see many things scattered on the floor, it may be because they can’t bend as easily as they used to before.

Not to mention that these things increase their risk of tripping and injuring themselves as they walk around the house.

senior assistance for daily care

5.  Confusion and Difficulty Performing Habitual Tasks

Do you notice your aging parents facing difficulty or acting uncertain when performing familiar tasks?

It may be a sign of a major decline in their physical or mental health. While mobility issues may come in the way of daily activities, it’s also possible that they have entirely forgotten how to do something that they have always done on their own.

6.  Changes in Eating Habits

When visiting aging loved ones over the holidays, make sure you check their kitchen and refrigerator for the quantity and quality of food stored. Do you see fresh fruits and vegetables in there? Does it seem that they’ve been eating proper, healthy meals?

Don’t hesitate to discuss their eating habits. Try to find out if they’ve been consuming boxed meals a little too often lately. Also, note if they’ve lost or gained a considerable amount of weight since your last visit.

Sudden, unexplained weight loss may indicate that they’ve been skipping meals or failing to meet their daily dietary requirements while a spike in their weight may be a sign of unhealthy eating or dementia. Oftentimes, elderly people repeat their meals over and over, forgetting that they’ve already eaten.

7.  Forgetting to Take Medicines

Don’t forget to see if your aging parents have been taking proper doses of their medications. Not taking medications or taking more than the prescribed dosage are both major red flags.

If they don’t take their medicines on time, it will likely decline their health. Similarly, if they’re overdosing, it may result in some serious side effects.

It’s a great idea to set up weekly medication boxes for them to keep track of their daily dosages.

senior care as we age

8.  Impaired Driving

One of the best ways to assess the mental health of your aging loved ones is by asking them to take you out for a drive. See if the request makes them uncomfortable or nervous.

Before the ride begins, check if there are any dents or scratches on the car that wasn’t there when you last visited. See if they remember to fasten their seatbelt before starting the car.

While they’re driving, note if they easily get distracted or confused. Try to talk to them and see if they can multi-task.

9.  Reluctant about Leaving the House

When you visit your aging parents over the holidays, suggest going out for a walk or a casual visit to a public place – and see how they react.

If they’re disinterested or reluctant to leave the house instead of being excited like the last time, it may be a sign of social withdrawal or bad physical health.

10.  A Noticeable Decline in Mobility

You should pay close attention to how your aging parents walk and move around the house. If they’re keen on sitting or lying on the bed the entire time or are walking with an unusual gait, it may be a sign of joint or muscle pain or neurological problems.

If you notice they’re facing problems in maintaining their balance, they may be at risk of falling and injuring themselves.

You would want to consult with their doctor to consider options to ensure their safety, including mobility aids, physical therapy, and pain management exercises.

elderly parent outside

11.  Inability to Make Sound Decisions

With a decline in mental health, your elderly loved ones may start to face difficulty in making decisions. They may lose their ability to evaluate a situation, identify the potential solutions, and weigh different options to reach a solid conclusion.

If you note any signs of cognitive decline, you should consider talking to a physician for their memory problems.

12.  Low Overall Score on Cleanliness

When you meet your aging parents over the holidays, look for any changes in their personal grooming habits.

Are they wearing fresh clothes? Are their nails and hair clean as usual?

Look for any strange body odor that may indicate that they haven’t been taking care of themselves the way they used to. It is also possible that the thought of getting in the shower scares them of slipping and falling.

In addition to this, take a good look around the house to see if it meets the usual standards in terms of cleanliness and organization. Any changes in personal or residential cleanliness may be due to physical ailments or memory issues.

13.  Unexplained Injuries or Bruises

Do you get the usual ‘I can walk and move just fine’ response every time you inquire about your aging loved ones’ mobility?

Unexplained injuries and bruises may tell you otherwise!

Look for any bumps, scratches, or bruises on their body that indicate that they’ve been injuring themselves due to balance and mobility issues.

14.  Feelings of Loneliness or Depression

If your aging parents are not willing to get out of bed despite you insisting them, they may have built the habit of staying in alone. When you ask people in their circle about their routine, you may get to know that your aging parents no longer interact with anyone.

See if they’re no longer interested in activities that they used to enjoy in the past. They may not eat properly and spend most of the time of their day sulking, resulting in a noticeable weight loss.

All these signs may indicate that they’re depressed and lonely and need professional help.

What You Should Do Next

It’s crucial to understand that most of these changes are part and parcel of aging. However, what’s more, important is that you recognize the warning signs as per the ‘caring for aging parents’ checklist, take necessary steps to provide your loved ones with extra care, and devise a care plan.

And don’t forget to consider the legal aspect of this situation as well! Ideally, you should obtain important documents regarding your aging parents’ medical, financial, and estate information. Apart from this, you must have access to their social security number, insurance policies, driving license, and deed to their home.

Now, this may sound overwhelming and seem like a lot of complicated work, but with the help of an experienced elder law attorney, this can be a much smoother process. Consulting an elder law attorney can provide options enabling only enable your aging loved ones to live independently at their home with maximum safety and also give you the much-needed peace of mind while you’re away from them.

Paths  Elder Law, an elder law attorney in the Kansas City, Missouri area that is here to help with the next step. Visit our website for great resources on the elder law process.




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Administrative Assistant

Ryan D. Foley

Ryan Foley at Paths Law

Administrative Assistant

Ryan D. Foley

Ryan graduated from the UMKC School of Law in 2018 and passed the Missouri Bar that year. Prior to law school, Ryan attended the University of Missouri – Columbia where he attained a degree in Business. He is a Kansas City native, growing up in the Northland where he achieved his Eagle Scout rank by doing a project for his high school. During his time in law school, Ryan was introduced to the practice area of Elder Law by one of his professors and has been

Ryan enjoys working with and educating clients to provide advocacy and support during the unfamiliar and often overwhelming probate process. Ryan understands the challenges faced by individuals when faced by the uncertainty and complexity of government systems or even handling a Trust during a time of grief, and he strives to make the process as easy as possible.

Administrative Assistant

Makaylee A. Morelli

administrative assistant at Paths Law

Administrative Assistant

Makaylee A. Morelli

Makaylee is currently working on her bachelor’s in political science and hopes to soon start law school as an aspiring attorney. In her free time, she loves to spend time with her friends and family but most importantly her dogs Taffyta, Tallulah Belle, and Harry. Their favorite thing to do is go on coffee dates and get pup cups.


Kathleen E. Overton

Kathleen Overton, attorney at Paths Law


Kathleen E. Overton

After starting her career as a disability attorney, Kathleen transitioned into estate planning at a mid-sized regional law firm. Kathleen joined Paths Law Firm in 2021 when she decided to return to a boutique law firm that provides excellent service and quality to clients. Because of her background as a disability attorney, she brings a thorough understanding of public benefits to each client meeting. At Paths Law FIrm, Kathleen focuses on traditional estate planning and business entity formation, providing tailored advice unique to each client’s situation.

Public Benefits Assistant

Tena K. Dooley

Public Benefits Assistant

Amanda D. Martin

I have my Associates in Applied Science and have over 20 years of office management experience. I have two daughters and one grandson.

During my time away from the office I enjoy spending time with my family.  I enjoy almost everything outdoors and my hobbies include fishing and gardening.


Sydney R. Morris

Paths Law elder law in Kansas City



Sydney is currently enrolled at the University of Missouri-Kansas City pursuing an accounting degree and plans to later attend law school.

In her free time, Sydney enjoys spending time with her nephews and volunteering at her local church.



Christy L. Phillips

client service manager at Paths Law


Christy L. Phillips

Phone: 816-640-8635
Email: [email protected]

Christy has 3 years of experience in Elder Law working for seniors and their families as a Benefits Coordinator processing Medicaid and VA applications. Prior to joining Paths Law Firm Christy worked in the finance industry for over 10 years.


Christy’s experience in the finance industry has been extremely beneficial to her role as Benefits Coordinator. There have been many influences that went into her decision to select the field of Elder Law. Christy has a special place in her heart for the elderly and attributes this to her relationship with her grandparents.

When asked why she loves what she does, Christy said that at Paths Elder law, she gets the opportunity to help clients in more ways than one. Her favorite part of her job is getting clients approved for Medicaid or VA benefits as it is a huge relief for them and their loved ones.

Christy was raised in Ogden, Utah, and moved to Independence, MO, when she was ten years old. She has two children that keep her busy and fill her life with joy! Christy’s daughter cheers for Avila University, and her son plays competitive baseball for the Bucks and races BMX locally for the Motorcycle Closeout Team.

When Christy is not working, she enjoys crafting and making homemade gifts for her loved ones and raising her kids to be healthy, happy, and positive humans.


Practice Areas

  • Medicaid Benefits
  • VA Benefits


Professionalc Memberships and Affiliations

  • Missouri Notary


René A. Fracassa

Rene A. Fracassa, Paths Law



René has worked along side Rusty for 35 years. Not only is she part of the Paths team, she is also his wife. René spends her time working with the accountant to keep all of the finances in order, as well as general office management.

In addition to helping run the office, she helps manage the family and grandkids, tries to keep everyone fed, and has a passion to teach Bible Studies. Her former career in Event Planning trained her to juggle all the activity. She understands Rusty’s passion to serve people from the first mention of law school. It is a great pleasure for her to be an important part of every area of his life.



Hilary R. Tichota

Hillary at Paths Law



Hilary plays a vital role in the daily operations of the office. In addition to her regular office duties, Hilary has a heart of gold.

For more than 5 years, Hilary has operated the front desk at Paths, running the office and catering to clients. Hilary recently moved into the role of Community Relations Coordinator. She has a passion for people and a focus to share our business practices with the community’s seniors, businesses, and clients. She especially has a heart for seniors, showing they are loved through her visits, treats, the “Pen to Pal” program, and volunteering services at various senior living communities. She is a wonderful wife and mother of two. Most activities with seniors involve her great talent for any type of craft.



Jennifer A. Bronson

Jennifer, senior paralegal



Jennifer has been in the legal field for over 25 years and considers Paths her second home.

When she’s not running the office or working for our clients, she’s spending time with her first passion – her children.


Russell A. Fracassa (Rusty)

attorney at Paths Law elder law


Russell A. Fracassa (Rusty)

Phone: 816-640-8635

When asked what he wants to do, his reply was “I just want to sit at the kitchen table and work directly with people.” Rusty enjoys working with clients providing experienced advocacy and supporting them through their unfamiliar and overwhelming situations. Due to all the challenges faced by seniors, it is essential to work with an experienced elder law attorney who has expertise in the law, issues, and concerns affecting seniors and their families.

Rusty brings nearly 30 years legal experience and expertise working for seniors and their families as an elder law attorney in Kansas City and surrounding. Prior to law school, Rusty was a practicing accountant. This provides invaluable experience in his current practice of law. Rusty decided to put his focus on helping the elderly, vulnerable adults, and their families navigate challenging life, end of life, and death events.

Rusty understands the challenges faced by individuals whose capacity is declining and how upsetting the loss of a loved one can be. He understands he may not be able to eliminate his client’s grief from loss, but he strives to provide clients with peace of mind. Rusty works directly with client’s long term care issues, including Medicaid, Veteran’s Benefits, Estate Planning, Asset Protection, and Special Needs Planning.

In 2010, Rusty’s faith and love led him and part of his family to China as Christian missionaries. He and his wife, went permanently, but ended up dedicating 3 years to that ministry. They returned to Missouri to help with grandchildren after a family tragedy and later began anew with Paths Elder Law. The goal is providing compassionate care through legal advocacy.

When Rusty is not practicing law, he enjoys spending time with his family, grandchildren, and excessive eating at local restaurants.


Practice Areas


  • Wills and Trusts
  • Estate Planning
  • Asset Protection
  • Medicaid Benefits
  • VA Benefits
  • Probate
  • Guardianship and Conservatorships
  • Education


BSBA and Master’s in Accounting, Master’s in Inter-Cultural Studies, and Doctorate in Juris Prudence

  • Rockhurst University
  • Liberty University
  • University of Missouri – Kansas City

Admissions to Practice

  • Missouri

Professional Memberships and Affiliations

  • State Bar of Missouri
  • National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (long-time Member)
  • Elder Counsel (Charter and Ongoing Member)
  • Missouri Association of Trial Attorneys (Past Member)
  • Kansas City Metropolitan Bar Association
  • Missouri State Bar Committees – Elder Law, Estate Planning, Probate