What To Watch For: Signs That A Loved One Needs More Care
Jonathan Perlman, founder of Tradition Senior Living in Houston & Dallas, TX.
Jonathan Perlman
January 24, 2019

As a caregiver helping a senior loved one living alone in his or her home, you are well aware of the ongoing, strenuous demands associated with juggling their needs along with your own family, work, social, and community obligations.  Because of this, it is often easy to miss some of the warning signs exhibited by your loved one that may signal it is time to consider added care.

Assisted Living can be a surprisingly affordable solution compared to multiple costs associated with home upkeep and maintenance. Finding a senior living community you can trust, and that a loved one can call “home,” can drastically improve the quality of life both for your loved one and for you, the caregiver.

According to Caring.com, key indicators to watch for include evaluating whether a loved one needs help with Activities of Daily Living (ADLs), which include meal preparation and eating; toileting; selecting proper attire; grooming; maintaining continence; putting on clothes; bathing; and walking or transferring.

Seventy-four percent of Assisted Living residents need help with two or more activities of daily living.

Per Caring.com, additional signs to watch for at home include noticing if your loved one:

  • has difficulty accessing areas of the home
  • is no longer preparing meals
  • is not bathing regularly
  • relies on family or friends for errands and outings
  • needs more than 10 hours a week of home care
  • has fallen recently

Here are some other key “red flags” to watch out for:

Home Maintenance Issues

If your loved one has traditionally maintained a reasonably clean home (including ensuring garbage goes out on time, washing dishes after a meal, etc.), it’s important to take note if the house becomes unkempt, dirty, chaotic or disorganized.

Is their refrigerator full of old, rotten food? Is unopened mail piling up? Are beds that were previously neatly made left as a messy pile of sheets and blankets? These can be signs of being overwhelmed or a call for help. It could mean that your loved one is starting to experience mental decline as well.

Financial Issues

If your elder loved one has traditionally handled his or her own finances, keep an eye out for an overdrawn checkbook or large checks being written to unfamiliar parties, collection notices in the mail, repeated phone calls from debt collection agencies, or any other signs that bills may not be getting paid on time. Again, this could signal possible mental decline — or just a sense of being overwhelmed by tasks that were once considered manageable.

Driving Issues

Is your loved one starting to get into little fender benders, scared of driving at night, or having trouble parking in the driveway or garage? Little unexplained dings or dents on the car could mean that he or she is hitting curbs or parked cars and is ashamed to share this information. Driving helps us all to feel more independent, yet it’s important to help your loved one give this up if his or her independence is starting to become unsafe for themselves and others.

Health Issues

Obviously, if your loved one is experiencing serious new health issues or requires more care than you or other family members and loved ones can provide, it may be time to seriously consider an Assisted Living community.

Twenty-five percent or one-in-four Assisted Living residents has been diagnosed with two or more chronic conditions, including but not limited to: high blood pressure, Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, heart disease, depression, arthritis, osteoporosis, diabetes, COPD and allied conditions, cancer, or a stroke. The average Assisted Living resident also takes 10 or more medications a week.

Hygiene and Grooming

Another cause for concern is if a senior loved one has traditionally been impeccably groomed and stops dressing nicely, no longer washes his or her clothes or hair, neglects to put on make-up, or forgoes his or her normal grooming routine. Most Assisted Living residents require assistance with at least two ADLs, which can include bathing, grooming, and dressing.

Mood Swings in Your Loved One

If your loved one is being uncharacteristically moody, cranky, angry, depressed, or down, it’s worth paying extra attention as these can be signs of a more serious health or mental health condition.

Social Lapses

If your loved one becomes withdrawn, is less social than usual, or becomes forgetful, these can be red flags signaling that it is time to get a medical check-up. Sometimes our loved ones reach a point when they simply require more care and attention than we can provide. At this time, and preferably sooner, it’s important to look into other options.

Caregiver Stress Overload

Obviously, if you are overwhelmed with the added stresses of caregiving, you might want to consider trying out a respite stay for your loved one. Excellent Assisted Living communities offer respite care, which is a way to not only take a reprieve from caregiving responsibilities, but also to find out what it would be like for your loved one to live in a beautiful senior living community.


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