Home for the Holidays: How to Evaluate if a Senior Needs Help

October 30, 2017

Evaluate senior needs

Are you concerned that your senior loved one may be need some assistance? These guidelines will help you objectively evaluate the situation.

Most of us want to make sure our parents, grandparents, and other senior loved ones are well taken care of as they grow older. But how can you evaluate when a senior you love needs extra help if they don’t ask for it?

This generation of elders is known for being fiercely independent. So it’s important to remember they might be reluctant to admit they need a little extra help.

Like many of us, seniors want to remain as independent as they can for as long as possible. That’s why you probably shouldn’t wait for an older loved one to ask for help, especially if they think it might require moving from the home they’ve lived in for years.

How can you evaluate your senior loved one’s circumstances? And decide if it’s time to talk with them about personal care support or help with household chores and tasks?

If you’re headed home for the holidays, plan to spend a little time assessing the situation.

How to Tell if a Senior Loved One Needs a Little Extra Help

There are almost always telltale signs that a senior is in need of help. Here are a few warning signs to be on the lookout for if you’re wondering how well your senior loved one is managing.

Environmental Signs a Senior Needs Support

We’ll start with a few signs to watch for in your senior loved one’s environment that might indicate they are struggling.

Begin by taking a good, honest look around their house and yard when you visit. If you notice some of the following, it might be time to consider a little assistance.

  • A messy house, including dirty dishes, clutter, overflowing trash and an overall inattention to cleanliness
  • Frequent, unpleasant odors in the home – these can be a sign of emotional, physical, or cognitive decline
  • The exterior of the house and/or the yard seem to be in a state of disrepair
  • Scratches or holes in the walls, which can indicate mobility problems

Physical Signs

Next, let’s have a look at physical signs that may indicate your senior loved one might need extra help.

  • A persistently disheveled appearance might suggest a senior is experiencing physical or emotional difficulties
  • Frequent, unexplained bruises or scrapes on your senior loved one’s body can be a strong indicator of physical struggles, especially falls
  • Unintended weight loss or weight gain might be a sign of nutrition problems, physical illness, or depression

Cognitive and Emotional Signs

Then there are warning signs that the problems might stem from a decline in cognition or emotional wellness, such as:

  • Persistent forgetfulness can be a sign of dementia, especially if the senior has trouble remembering important appointments, names, and social activities.
  • Confusion and/or difficulty keeping track of time are both warning signs of cognitive decline.
  • Consistent agitation and frequent mood changes are often symptoms of deteriorating mental or emotional health.
  • Be especially wary if the agitation or mood swings seem to worsen as it grows later in the day. This may be evidence of something called Sundowner’s Syndrome. Sundowners is common among people with Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Marked or sudden changes in their daily routine, including sleep problems or withdrawing from favorite hobbies and social groups can all be signals that something is awry.

What to Do if Your Senior Loved One Needs Help

We know you’re devoted to your senior loved ones and want to do what’s best for them. You wouldn’t be here seeking this type of information if you didn’t. The best approach is to remain calm but begin to take action.

Use a calendar to document your concerns and the dates they occurred on. It will help you begin to spot trends. This is also good information to share with your senior loved one’s physician when you call to schedule an appointment for your family member.

And, yes, scheduling a wellness visit with their primary care physician is important if you suspect a problem with an older loved one.

And remember that we’re always here to help.

Please contact us if you have any questions or would like to arrange a tour of our Legacy Senior Living communities.