Signs to look for with an elderly loved one who may need more care.

warning-signsCaregiving doesn’t always begin with a sudden diagnosis or health episode, like a stroke. Sometimes it sneaks up on us, or we are unaware of the early warning signs that the person in need of care is exhibiting.
Slight changes in your aging parent’s behavior, personality, level of self-care, or the ability to do household chores can indicate that their need for care and support is increasing.
It’s important for families and caregivers to keep a watchful eye on the people in their care, especially seniors, even when they are living independently and are in good physical and mental health. Knowing what to look for can help prepare caregivers for the upcoming changes to their caregiving journey.
Slight changes in your aging parent’s behavior, personality, level of self-care, or the ability to do household chores can indicate that their need for care and support is increasing.
Here is a list that adult children and caregivers can use to observe changes in their parents’ behavior and personal care. Please note that this list should not be used to diagnose individuals. Only licensed health care professionals are able to make medical diagnoses and put together treatment plans for their patients.

Behavioral changes

  • Irritable (gets upset easily)
  • Sad (tearful)
  • Angry (loses temper)
  • Withdrawn (does not want to talk)
  • Confused (does not understand what is happening)
  • Memory loss (forgets or repeats conversations, medications unfilled or not being taken)


We all have different personalities and our moods can differ depending on the day so you may not want to rush to the doctor every time your mom or dad has a bad mood. However, if he or she has been acting out of character for some time, there may be an underlying reason for it. Try to have a conversation with them about how they are feeling and discuss ways you can help.

Changes in activities of daily living

  • Difficulty moving (getting out of a chair, walking across the room)
  • Difficulty getting in and out of the bath tub
  • Difficulty getting to the toilet
  • Problems preparing meals
  • Confused (does not understand what is happening)
  • Dirty and cluttered house (food expired, laundry piling up, neglected home repairs)


Here are some examples of how changes to the person’s behavior, character, and/or daily living activities can affect different aspects of their life:

  • Balance and mobility: shaky balance and difficulty with moving can increase the person’s risk for falling and injury
  • Personal safety: a person with dementia may wander, which is a serious safety risk
  • Nutrition: the person in your care may be getting too much or not enough food each day
  • Personal hygiene: if neglected can increase risk of infection


Often your parent may be reluctant to say they need help, or try to downplay the trouble they are having.
Sometimes providing help in even a small way can make a big difference and allow them to retain as much independence as possible.
As a person’s need for more care and support increases, it’s only natural for their caregiver to feel burned out as they try to meet their needs. Help at Home Senior Care can help you with the day to day tasks of caregiving to help you focus on more important matters like spending quality time with the person in your care, your family, or focus on your own needs. If you’d like to learn more, contact us. We are happy to answer your questions.

The Care Conversation

care-conversationMany older people are incapable of running their own lives and homes, but often are reluctant to admit they need help. Failing eyesight, memory lapses, confusion, fatigue, sadness, drug and other substance abuses and appetite changes can account for a diminished ability to manage a home. There are definite signs that indicate some kind of assistance may be necessary.

Based upon your observations, if you have concluded that your loved one’s situation demands attention, it’s time to take the next step and talk about it.

Before you start the conversation, be aware that talking about getting help may feel very threatening to your loved one. He or she may tell you to mind your own business, or insist that everything is fine when it is not.

First, consider why those needing assistance may reject the idea of accepting help. She may feel uncomfortable with having others see her increasing needs. After years of independence, the loss of certain abilities may feel too sad to face. Some people feel ashamed, embarrassed, or vulnerable. Others worry about becoming a burden. Some people are resistant to the idea of needing to invite a new person, such as a professional caregiver, into their lives.

It is important to remember to be sensitive. Speak gently and with compassion. Let your loved one know that you are worried. You can give specific examples of things that have happened that have caused you to worry. Be careful that you don’t blame the person for what is happening. Remain calm to help defuse any anger or defensiveness.

Listen to your loved one’s point of view. Ask him what he wants as he ages. If you haven’t already done it, this is an excellent time to talk about his advanced care directive. Open up the conversation to include care preferences, housing alternatives, and end of life goals. The more you listen and let your loved one share, the more you will learn about what she hopes for the last years of her life.

If your loved one continues to be resistant, let him know that it is about you, not him. You can say, “I know you don’t want help yet, but I am worried and this would help me to worry less when I can’t be with you.”

Trust yourself and your evaluation of your loved ones care needs. Also pay attention to your own needs for breaks if you are the primary caregiver. Then move forward giving your loved one as many choices as possible. If your loved one refuses to get in-home care, discuss the option of moving to a facility. Be gentle and firm in your conviction that some type of help is needed.

If your loved one makes a decision to try in-home care or move to a facility, ease the transition by allowing her to make as many choices as possible. This might include touring facilities, picking the move date, or meeting an in-home caregiver before care begins. Choices give people control in the midst of the frightening and uncontrollable circumstances of aging.

If you need help with initiating this conversation with a loved one that you are worried about, call Help at Home Senior Care. We will be happy to help you evaluate the situation, walk you through the process of seeking help, and consider the options available to you and your loved one.

The Benefits of Home Care

  • Generally, in-home care leads to a higher satisfaction with life, even when frailty is a factor.
  • Home care, done correctly, allows dignity, independence and maximum comfort for the care recipient.
  • Home care promotes healing. Research demonstrates that patients heal more quickly and comfortably at home versus in a hospital or nursing home setting and there is significantly less chance of re-hospitalization when recuperation is at home. (Avalere Study 2008)
  • Home care supports and keeps families together. Families tend to stay more involved with the care and maintain closeness with their loved one.
  • Home care can offer personalized care tailored to the needs of the family and the individual on any given day, whether that need is as simple as company and conversation or more complex, as in needs with personal care.
  • Home care services are delivered one-on-one, assuring more private attention than a nursing home or a facility. There is no “waiting for one’s turn” when care is needed.
  • Home care is usually cheaper than costs for a nursing home or even assisted living. A good rule is that 8 hours a day or less of home care will be less expensive than moving elsewhere.
  • A home caregiver produces healthy and nutritional meals that appeal to the individual and can also keep a close eye on the amount of food eaten.
  • A personalized daily exercise program can be implemented and followed through, with the added safety of a qualified professional being present.
  • One can never underestimate the benefit of the familiarity of home, whether that be just enjoying a favorite chair or enjoying the daily cup of tea in a familiar corner.
  • Home care offers accompaniment on transportation to and from various appointments, social activities or errands, allowing families more free time together as well as additional peace of mind.
  • In recent years, home care providers have developed successful models in care coordination, prescription management, disease management and behavioral education. They have pioneered innovative and cost-effective uses of technology and therapeutics to deliver high quality, client-centered, well-coordinated care across the health care delivery system, helping millions of Americans live safely and independently at home.

Fall Risks and Prevention

fall-risks-and-preventionSenior citizens make up 13% of the total United States population. As more Baby Boomers reach retirement age, that number is expected to grow. The “oldest old” — those aged 85 and over — are the most rapidly growing elderly age group. It is expected the oldest old will number 19 million in the United States by 2050. That would make them 24 percent of elderly Americans and 5 percent of all Americans.

Along with that growth comes a growing risk of senior falls. In 2011, over 59,000 California seniors suffered a fall requiring a visit to an emergency room, according to the Sacramento Bee. More than 60% of individuals who fall will fall again within six months.

The California Department of Public Health estimates that the number of seniors aged 85 or older who died as a result of a fall more than doubled in the last decade.

Why this increase? Balance declines with age. Many factors contribute toward making the older adult susceptible to falls. These include: osteoporosis, sudden decrease in blood pressure, loss of muscle strength, stroke, arthritis, illness, diabetes and medications that cause dizziness. In addition, home safety hazards such as stairs and throw rugs are cited as issues.

Don’t let a fear of falling keep you from being active. Doing things like getting together with friends, gardening, walking, or going to the local senior center are also important for staying healthy. The good news is that there are simple ways to prevent most falls.

By taking care of your overall health, you may be able to lower your chances of falling.

Other ways to reduce your fall risk include:

  • Have a bone mineral density test. If your bones are weak, ask your doctor to tell you how to make them stronger. Mild weight-bearing activities, such as walking or climbing stairs, may slow bone loss from osteoporosis.
  • Stay physically active. Follow a simple and consistent exercise program. Regular exercise makes you stronger and improves muscles. It also helps keep your joints, tendons, and ligaments flexible.
  • Make an appointment to have your eyes and hearing checked. Small changes can increase your risk of falling without your knowing. If you do get new glasses, take time to get used to them. If you have a hearing aid, make sure you wear it.
  • Find out about the side effects of any medicine you take. If a drug makes you sleepy or dizzy, tell your doctor or pharmacist.
  • Get enough sleep. Being sleepy, makes you more likely to fall.
  • Stand up slowly after eating, lying down, or sitting. Getting up too quickly can cause your blood pressure to drop. That can make you feel faint.
  • Use a cane, walking stick, or walker to help you feel steadier when you walk. This is very important when you’re walking in areas you don’t know well or in places where the walkways are uneven.
  • Wear rubber-soled, low-heeled shoes that fully support your feet.
  • Remove throw rugs in your home as they can be a tripping hazard.
  • Make your bathroom safe by installing grab bars around the tub and beside the toilet and using non-slip mats.
  • Request a home safety inspection from your care coordinator at Help at Home Senior Care.

Above all, take precautions, and remain as active as possible. Preventing falls will keep you healthier longer

LIC # 314700014