Helping a senior loved one balance safety with independence isn’t easy. Look for these 10 warning signs that indicate it might be time for more support.

10 Warning Signs to Look for When You Visit a Senior this Holiday Season

  • November 12, 2015

Adult children of an aging parent often find themselves in a difficult position. While they know how important it is for a senior loved one to maintain their independence, they also worry about keeping them safe at home. Understanding if and when to intervene can be tough to do.

If you will be heading home for the holidays to visit an older loved one, there are a few warning signs you should be on the lookout for when you are there. They are good indicators that the time has come to talk about making a change.

10 Signs an Aging Loved One Needs More Help

If you are noticing more than one or two of these behaviors in a senior you love, it might be time to talk about making a move to a senior living community. These communities offer older adults a combination of safety and independence, in addition to a wide variety of life enrichment and wellness activities.

  1. Personal Hygiene: An early indicator that a parent or other senior loved one is struggling is their personal appearance. Have you noticed a change in their hygiene habits? Is their clothing appropriate for the time of day and season of the year? Changes in this area can be signs an older adult is having trouble with personal care.
  2. Less Social: Has an always involved and social older loved one withdrawn from favorite pastimes and organizations? It might be a sign they are having problems with transportation or that they are aware something is wrong but aren’t sure what it is.
  3. Depression: Along those same lines is a case of the blues that goes on for many months. Seniors who are isolated or live alone are at higher risk for depression. If the older adult in your family seems tired, uninterested in carrying on a conversation or is sleeping a lot, it might be time to intervene. Make an appointment with their primary care physician.
  4. Falls: Have they experienced any falls or near falls? Is your senior loved one struggling with balance problems or are they a little unsteady on their feet? Older homes may not be the safest environment for a senior who is experiencing mobility issues. Falls remain the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries among seniors.
  5. Accidents: When a senior driver bumps their car in to things like a curb or the garage door, it might not seem like a serious concern. But small accidents can indicate they may not be safe behind the wheel of a car any longer. Slower reflexes, problems with vision and hearing loss are just a few reasons why.
  6. Housekeeping: If your parent has always kept a tidy house it is usually easy to spot when there might be a problem. Is laundry piled up? Is the trash overflowing? A dirty house is not only a sign a loved one is struggling, it can also present health and safety risks.
  7. Finances: Is your senior family member safely managing their finances? There are a few ways to tell. Are bills stacked up unopened on their counter or desk? Another tip off is calls from bill collectors. When an older adult is having trouble keeping their financial house in order, they may pay some bills twice while neglecting others.
  8. Being Scammed: Criminals often target seniors. They believe them to be lonely and confused. It puts older adults at higher risk for fraud and scams such as fake sweepstakes prizes, phony roofing companies and identity theft. If your loved one has fallen victim to a scam, it might be a sign they need to make a move.
  9. Nutrition: When you visit your loved one this holiday season, take a peek inside their pantry and refrigerator. Are they full of out-of-dated foods? Does your senior loved one’s diet seem to consist primarily of fast food? Poor nutrition can contribute to a variety of health conditions, as well as increase their risk for a fall.
  10. Mismanaging Medication: Mistakes with medication are a leading reason seniors end up in the emergency department of a hospital every year. Some take too much medication and others forget to take it altogether. That’s why medication management is one of the most commonly utilized services in senior living communities.

If you are noticing more than one or two of these behaviors in a senior you love, it might be time to talk about making a move to a senior living community. These communities offer older adults a combination of safety and independence, in addition to a wide variety of life enrichment and wellness activities.


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