Look-and-See Signs A
Senior Needs Help

submitted by Nancy Vest of Home Instead Senior Care, 952-929-5695

How to tell when the elderly need assistance to stay safe and comfortable at home

What today’s seniors want most is to age in place.  What they fear most is to lose their independence.  But what they’re least likely to ask for is the kind of help that will keep them comfortable and safe at home.  That’s why it’s often up to the adult children of aging parents to look for the signs that their elderly loved one needs help at home. 

“Seniors often don’t recognize when they require help,” said Cher Franta, owner of the Home Instead Senior Care office serving Edina, Eden Prairie, Bloomington, Richfield and South Minneapolis.  “That’s why adult children should identify where their loved ones need assistance.   

Providing seniors assistance with a few basic tasks – such as meal preparation, light housework, companionship and medication reminders – often means the difference between whether they stay at home or go to a facility.  And that kind of independence is very important to seniors’ overall happiness.” 

The latest report in the AARP’s Beyond 50 series confirmed that seniors’ number one fear is loss of independence.  “The vast majority of people 50 and older do not require long-term assistance at any given time."  However, most people will require assistance at some point in their lives, and most families will face these issues with their older family members, according to the report.

Oftentimes, seniors are reluctant to seek outside help because they want to keep doing things the way they always have.  That’s when, with an older adult’s input, a caregiver can intervene to promote a safe environment and help ensure quality of life.

“By helping adult children identify the types of resources that a senior might need to remain independent at home, we hope that families can avoid some of the stress that goes with caring for an aging loved one,” Franta said. 

For more information about Home Instead Senior Care, contact Cher Franta, at 952-929-5695 or visit the company’s website at www.homeinstead.com.

Look-and-See Signs of Aging

1. Look in refrigerator, freezer and drawers.  Has food spoiled
   because mom can’t get to the grocery store?  Does she have
   difficulty cleaning tight, cluttered places?

2. Look over the grocery list.  Has your loved one’s declining
   health prompted her to purchase more convenience and junk
   foods, and neglect proper nutrition?  Is she losing weight?

3. Look on top of furniture and countertops.  Are dust and dirt
   signs that household tasks are becoming more difficult for your

4. Look up at fans and ceilings.  Has the inability to lift her arms
   and climb stepstools prevented your loved one from cleaning
   soot and grime from high places?  Caution your senior not to

5. Look down at floors and stairways.  Have shaky hands spilled
   drinks and food, soiling vinyl, wood, carpets and walkways? 
   Are frayed carpets, throw rugs, objects and furniture creating
   tripping hazards?  Does dad’s bad knee put him at greater risk
   on cracked sidewalks and with broken stair rails? 

6. Look under beds and sofas.  Is your senior having difficulty
   organizing old newspapers, books and magazines, which are
   creating a fire hazard?  

7. Look through the mail.  Is mom’s dementia causing her to
   forget to pay bills and answer correspondence? 

8. Look below bathroom and kitchen sinks.  Is poor eyesight
   making it difficult for your elderly relative to read medication
   labels and to properly store cleaning materials?  Is he
   forgetting to refill medications and to take them on schedule? 
   Check the refill date against the number of pills in the bottle to
   help determine if your loved one is taking medication
   regularly.  Or call the pharmacy.

9. Look at your senior’s appearance.  Is clothing dirty and
   unkempt, and is your loved one neglecting personal hygiene?

10. Look to your parents’ neighbors and other close friends to
     find out about their daily routine.  Are your seniors at home
     more, watching television and avoiding stimulating
     conversation and companionship?



Nancy Vest is the Community Services Representative for Home Instead Senior Care in Edina, MN, a trusted source of non-medical services to help seniors live safely and independently at home. Nancy has a degree in Social Work and a background that includes working with the elderly. She knows first-hand what it is like to face the challenging issues that come with caring for aging loved ones. Her 88 year old parents-in-law live with Nancy and her husband in their Eden Prairie home.

If you have a question or a topic you would like Nancy to address, you can contact her at 952-929-5695, or email her at nancy.vest@homeinstead.com.