How to Know When an Aging Loved One Needs More Help

As loved ones age, sometimes it becomes clear that more help is needed. The need could be as simple as some in-home light housekeeping services to a much larger change, like a transition to a long-term care facility. But how do you know when help is needed and how much?

Here are a few of the signs your loved ones might need some extra help, and some resources to offer:

  1. The house just isn’t as tidy as it used to be. As a person ages mobility might become a problem. If the older adult can’t get around as well as in the past, this might show in cleanliness of the home. Are dishes left in the sink? Bathrooms getting a bit dirty? Are there messes from pets? This could be a sign that a little extra help with a housekeeping service might be helpful.
  2. The older adult is losing or gaining weight. Losing weight can indicate poor nutrition, dental problems, problems with chronic disease, or even social isolation. Gaining weight can be a red flag for some chronic medical conditions or decreased mobility. A community resource like “Meals on Wheels”, a congregate meal program, a non-medical in-home service agency, or a dental visit might help the older adult gain weight. For those that are gaining weight, a visit to the primary care provider or joining a community based physical activity class designed for the older adult could be a great resource.
  3. The older adult is falling or afraid of falling. The fear of falling is actually a risk factor for falls, and probably means the older adults has fallen at least one time already. Falls can be deadly to the older adult. Not just the fall itself, but the immobility that comes afterward. Reaching out to a community or health care organization to join a fall prevention class can help reduce the risk. Working with a physical therapist, or joining a tai chi or qigong class to strengthen muscles can greatly reduce the risk of future falls.
  4. The caregiver is becoming overtired, easily frustrated, or has shortened patience with the older adult. Asking for help can be tough. Caregivers have round the clock demands and can become overtired and easily frustrated with cognitively challenged older adults. A good way to help the caregiver and the older adult is to use respite or adult day care services. This allows for that needed break to rest and recharge.
  5. Trips to the doctor, emergency department or hospital admissions are becoming frequent. This could be a sign that there are some unknown or uncontrolled medical problems. Help with a nursing home health service can help manage chronic medical conditions to keep the older adult at home and healthier.

Sometimes the older adult or the caregiver just cannot manage the multiple needs and must transition to a facility. Looking at the person as an individual is important when considering a transition to a long-term care facility. There are many options in each community. Working with the primary care provider and the local Aging and Disability Resource Center can help locate a facility that best fits the needs of the older adult. Be sure to tour multiple facilities to determine which is the best fit and continue to support the older adult during and after that transition.


Learn more about Carrie’s publication’s CNA: Nursing Assistant Certification Textbooks and Workbooks.

Adopters of her publications are able to receive consulting work to adapt the book’s curriculum and also presentations on the following topics:

  • What are the determinants of good health?
  • Health Literacy…how to better understand the language of health care to navigate the health care system effectively.
  • Does nutrition and physical activity play a large role in how we age?
  • Managing medications, traditional vs. alternative.
  • How to support an older adult who wants to “age in place” and what that means.
  • How to know when an older adult needs extra services and what those are. Skilled care facility vs. assisted living facility.
  • How to adapt caregiving to the “silver tsunami” who have higher expectations of care and are more informed on their health care options than ever before.
  • Why is there a current caregiver crisis in the U.S.?

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