How to know when your parent needs emergency psychiatric care.

How to know when your parent needs emergency psychiatric care:


  • Talking about suicide

  • Not eating or extreme weight loss

  • Loss of interest in everyday activities like getting dressed, showering, cooking

  • Aggressive behaviors toward others in the home

  • Not able to sleep or excessive sleep for more than a couple days

  • Appears severely anxious or distressed

  • Wandering away from home, not dressed appropriately for the weather

  • Isolating from others


Options to get help

  • The first goal is to safety.  Remove any guns from the home, and remove medications aside from a few in a mediset box.  Do not leave your parent alone for long.

  • Reach out to your parent’s PCP and ask for an immediate appointment for evaluation and medications

  • Call your parent’s insurance company and ask for a referral for an emergency psychiatric appointment.  

  • Call the behavioral health crisis line and ask for a crisis appointment.  King County 866-427-4747 Pierce County 800-576-7764 Thurston 360-586-2800  Snohomish (425) 388-7215

  • If an appointment is not immediately available or your parent appears worse, bring him or her to the closest hospital emergency department (or nearest hospital with a psychiatric unit for the elderly) where your parent will be assessed for contributing medical factors by the medical team, evaluated by a social worker and then placed in the most appropriate available psychiatric unit.  

Reach out for support for yourself- helping your aging parents takes a toll on you too!  

Sound Options Counselors and Care Managers are available to support you through this time with emergency advice and counseling.  You don’t have to go it alone!

Published on January 13, 2020.