What are the Warning Signs a Senior Needs Help?

What are the Warning Signs a Senior Needs Help

  • January 25, 2018

Adult children often ask us how they will know when a loved one needs more help or it’s time to consider a move to an assisted living community. Sometimes the warning signs are more obvious, such as a senior experiencing frequent falls because their home wasn’t designed for an older person. Other times the warning signs aren’t so obvious.  In fact, it might be several small concerns that add up to trouble for a senior living at home alone.

6 Signs a Senior Loved One Needs Assisted Living Care

Here are a few warning signs to watch for during your visits with an older loved one:

  1. Neglecting home maintenance: Have you noticed a change in how well your loved one is managing routine housekeeping and maintenance chores? Are repairs being neglected? Are odors present in the home? Failing to maintain their home can be an early sign a senior is struggling.
  2. Unintended weight change: Poor nutrition is another red flag for adult children to monitor. Unintended weight gain or weight loss can be a signal that an older adult is grappling with meal planning, grocery shopping, or preparing healthy meals. Relying on fast food or convenience items, such as frozen dinners, can be especially dangerous for seniors with chronic health problems. These types of foods are usually high in trans-fat and sodium which can aggravate conditions like high blood pressure or diabetes.
  3. Change in hygiene: Do you see a difference in how well your loved one is managing their personal hygiene? Are they wearing clothing that is appropriate for the time of day and the season of the year? Or are they wearing pajamas all day or a heavy sweater in the middle of summer? If a normally well-kept senior looks disheveled it can be a sign they are having trouble with personal care. 
  4. Medication problems: Making mistakes with medicine is one of the leading reasons seniors are sent to hospital emergency rooms. The more medications an older adult must take each day, the higher the risk for errors. When you visit your senior loved one, count the number of pills left in each of their prescription bottles. Compare that number to the date the prescription was filled and number of pills prescribed. Too many or too few left in the bottle might be sign the senior is having difficulty managing their medication schedule. 
  5. Unsteady on their feet: Falls remain the leading cause of injury for older adults. An unsteady gait combined with an older home that isn’t designed with a senior in mind can add up to problems. Keep an eye on how well your senior loved one navigates their way around the home. Watch to see how steady they are on their feet. Bruises on the legs and arms can be a sign of falls or near falls in an older adult so be on the lookout for those too.
  6. Mismanaging finances: Difficulty with finances is often an early clue that a senior is experiencing problems. It is also one of the earliest indicators of Alzheimer’s disease. Specifically look for stacks of unopened bills on the counter or past-due notices from creditors. You might also want to pay attention to phone calls. Do they seem to be receiving calls about outstanding bills? These can indicate problems managing household finances.

We hope this information helps you assess how well an older adult you love is doing at home.

Talking about Senior Living with a Loved One

If you’ve decided it’s time to talk with a senior loved one about moving, getting the conversation started might be difficult. Discussing Senior Living with Your Loved One offers suggestions you might find to be of help. We also invite you to contact the Five Star community nearest you with any questions!


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51 Warning Signs

51 Warning Signs

As you care for your aging loved ones, learn how to spot unusual behaviors ranging from poor nutrition to depression.

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