Early warning signs that your aging loved one needs help at home

As the people important to us most begin to grow older, we witness many changes in their appearance, behavior and health. Some of these changes are the natural signs of aging while others should be considered signals that help might be needed in the home. But if our loved ones don’t ask for help directly, how will we know if living alone is no longer an option for them?
Encouraging open conversations should always be the first step. Talking with family members, friends and doctors will begin to open doors of understanding for all involved. However, to ensure the safety and well-being of your elderly loved one, these discussions should take place early on.
CareConversations.org, a website dedicated to providing insight into the care planning process, advocates open dialogue even before a loved one might be showing signs. They also suggest using the following checklist as a tool to identify care needs:

  • Feel forgetful, confused or lost
  • Mix up or forget to take medications
  • Miss doctors’ appointments
  • Overlook things that pose a safety concern
  • Struggle to pay bills or buy food
  • Receive a lot of junk mail
  • Write checks or withdraw money to make payments to unfamiliar people or companies
  • Act secretive while on the phone

Emotional and Social

  • Feel lonely or depressed
  • Feel frustrated or stressed
  • Take less interest in things previously enjoyed
  • Avoid people and social interaction

Physical and Medical

  • Sleep more often or have less energy
  • Notice a change in eating habits
  • Have difficulty walking, dressing, eating or bathing
  • Have trouble cleaning or maintaining a household
  • Fall more often or bruise more easily
  • Need medical attention or additional personal care
  • Take medication that you think needs to be adjusted
  • Need daily/weekly treatments, such as dialysis or IV therapy
  • Use medical equipment, such as an oxygen tank

If your loved one is exhibiting any of the items on the checklist, it may now be clear to family members what level of care is needed. For those who still feel unsure, care providers like Freedom Home Care can also help. By talking to a caregiver at Freedom Home Care about the checklist above, it will be easier to assess what type of in-home services might be appropriate now and in the future.