Warning Signs that a Senior Needs More Help

lady with hands on her face in disbelief

Dear Regina:

I went home to visit my mother in the Columbus area over the holidays. It was my first in-person visit with her since last spring. Besides losing weight, she seemed a little disorganized and nervous during my stay. I’m not sure if this is just normal aging or signs that she needs help of some kind.

How do I know the warning signs of something more serious are and what can I do to get Mom the help it seems like she needs?


Evaluating a Senior’s Safety at Home

Dear Dan:

Senior care providers often receive frantic phone calls from adult children during the holiday season who find themselves in a situation like the one you just described. Older parents usually don’t want to bother busy adult children with their problems, especially when the kids live far away.

Here are a few warning signs that suggest your mom needs help:

  • Untidy home including piles of laundry, overflowing trash, and dirty dishes
  • Expired foods and evidence of a diet that consists primarily of convenience foods (i.e. frozen dinners) and fast foods
  • Decline in personal hygiene habits
  • Change in personality such as overly weepy or sad, short-tempered, paranoid or anxious
  • Unintended weight gain or weight loss
  • Bills piled up unopened on the counter or desk
  • Calls from creditors regarding unpaid bills
  • Withdrawing from favorite social organizations, church groups and hobbies

If more than one or two of these could be used to describe your mother’s current situation, your concerns about her safety might be warranted.

The best next step to take is probably to encourage your mom to schedule an appointment with her family physician or to allow you to do that for her. Together you can share your concerns with her doctor and ask for their advice.

It might be that a poor diet has led to her decline. If you enlist the services of an in-home aide to help with grocery shopping and meal preparation, you might be able to get back on track.

Or the physician may suggest that being isolated and alone has led to depression. A move to a senior living community where she can be active and engaged with life again could be the best solution for your mom.

We welcome you and your mom to contact us if you need help understanding the senior care options that are available to her in the Columbus area. Our team will be happy to help answer your questions and connect you with the resources you need.

Ragena McGuire, RN, Director of Nursing