10 Warning Signs Your Older Family Member May Need Help

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Changes in physical and cognitive abilities that may occur with age can be difficult to detect—for older adults and their family members, friends, and caregivers. To help in determining when an older adult may need assistance in the home, the Eldercare Locator has compiled this list of 10 warning signs. Any one of the following behaviors may indicate the need to take action. It is also important to inform the older adult’s physician of these changes.

  1. Changing eating habits, resulting in weight loss, appetite loss, or missed meals
  2. Neglecting personal hygiene, including clothing, body odor, oral health, nails, and skin
  3. Neglecting the home, with a noticeable change in tidiness and/or sanitation
  4. Exhibiting inappropriate behavior, such as being unusually loud, quiet, paranoid, or agitated, or making phone calls at unusual hours
  5. Changing relationship patterns, causing friends and neighbors to express concern
  6. Showing physical injuries, such as burns, which may have resulted from general weakness, forgetfulness, or misuse of alcohol or medication
  7. Decreasing or stopping participation in activities that were once enjoyable, such as a bridge or book club, dining with friends, or attending religious services
  8. Exhibiting forgetfulness, resulting in unopened mail, newspaper piles, unfilled prescriptions, or missed appointments
  9. Mishandling finances, such as not paying bills or paying them more than once and losing or hiding money
  10. Making unusual purchases, such as more than one subscription to the same magazine, entering an unusually large number of contests, or increasing purchases from television advertisements

Through the Eldercare Locator, older adults and their loved ones can find local resources that can help older adults to continue living independently in their homes and communities. To find programs and services in your area, contact the Eldercare Locator at 1-800-677-1116or https://eldercare.acl.gov.