Medical Alert Systems

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When Should You Get A Caregiver? Here Are 10 Signs That A Senior Needs Some Extra Help

Author: Jackie Muhlethaler

Updated: 05/03/2019

There are many concerns for family members of aging relatives, especially grandparents, parents or other extended family members. One of the more difficult decisions that responsible family members is if and when to get additional home care in the form of a caregiver. There are many signs that would point to the need for a caregiver or other home care, but we’ve isolated ten that may lead to a decision to seek additional help or support in the home for your loved one.


Difficulty with Driving

It’s hard to admit for anyone who has been driving for their entire lives, but many times there comes a point when operating a vehicle is no longer a reasonable option. There are countless reasons that could lead to a senior’s inability to drive themselves to the grocery store, drug store, appointments, church or other regular activities. Trouble seeing at night is a common reason that older adults are unable to drive, along with slower response times, hearing loss, discomfort on the road, and even a medical diagnosis that could keep them from driving.

If you’re unsure about how they are driving, consider taking a look at the condition of their car and whether it has more scratches or dents, or even go on a ride to evaluate their ability. If a caregiver is needed, you can rest assured that your loved one will be safe on the road. Caregivers can help provide safe transportation, taking them to appointments and to run errands, or simply to get them out of the house.


Failing Health

One of the most common reasons to employ a caregiver is a medical diagnosis or failing health that your loved one is experiencing. Heart attacks, stroke, injury, and chronic illness are just some of the health problems that plague seniors enough to warrant some aid around the house. When a senior is in poor health and family members aren’t able to provide the care they require, an experienced caregiver can provide a senior with the attention they need for the health issues they are facing while families have peace of mind with regular updates.


Inadequate Nutrition

Nutrition is vital for people at any age, and even more so for seniors who are aging. Proper nutrition, including fruits and vegetables, protein and healthy carbohydrates and fats are all keys to balanced meals that help fuel the body, along with plenty of water. One of the more troubling signs for families that may key them in to a relative needing extra support is the lack of healthy, balanced meals or foods in the home. When a senior is resorting to frozen dinners, has rotting or expired food and is gaining or losing weight, it may be a sign that their nutrition is lacking. A caregiver can ensure that balanced, healthy meals are cooked, the refrigerator is stocked and that bad food isn’t left to rot or expire.



A bad fall or general instability is one of the biggest reasons that seniors end up needing a caregiver. The AARP states that one in three people over 65 years old will experience a fall each year. Falls can be extremely dangerous for seniors and can cause serious health problems and even death. Falls can be a serious concern for seniors living at home alone. Some typical precursors to a fall are signs of decreased mobility, trouble standing up, and struggling to walk up and down the stairs. Having a caregiver on hand can ensure that your loved one will have regular access to aid in the case of a fall. If the caregiver isn’t able to be on-hand at all times, a medical alert device is a great addition or alternative, and caregivers can even have access to alerts and updates with a medical alert system if they aren’t around.


Lack of Hygiene

An issue that may not be totally intuitive but is a tell-tale sign that steps may need to be taken with your loved one is reduction in hygienic practices. Aging seniors may have trouble keeping the house clean, doing laundry, changing sheets or even practicing self-hygiene such as showering and brushing their teeth. These lapses can be due to a number of problems, ranging from general difficulty in upkeep to more serious mobility and health problems. Caregivers can help your loved ones with cleaning tasks in the home and caring for themselves and ensure that good hygienic habits are being practiced regularly.


Personality Changes

One of the more upsetting changes that a family may see in loved ones is a shift in behavior or personality. Sometimes this shift could be small, such as a lack of desire to do the hobbies they once loved or some minor anxiousness. Other times this shift is significant, with a senior showing signs of mood swings, less socialization and depression or anxiousness. These changes could indicate a greater issue at hand; according to the Alzheimer’s Association, these shifts could be early signs of Alzheimer’s and dementia. Home care could help combat these symptoms and pick up on continued warning signs, ensuring the safety of the seniors through these changes.


Difficulty with Daily Tasks

Another sign of aging that may be concerning for seniors living home alone is trouble completing or remembering how to do simple, daily tasks. Some of these could include forgetting about appointments, difficulty with mail or maintenance, watering plants or caring for pets, or even problems cooking meals or remembering to purchase home necessities. If your loved one is having issues doing simple things on a regular basis, it may be time to enlist some additional help. Home caregivers can not only ensure that these basic needs are met, but can help seniors feel confident enough to handle these tasks with some extra help.


Missed Medication

With age typically comes additional medication, which may be lifesaving for a senior. When they forget or refuse to take their medication, it may be time for a third-party intervention. Caregivers will have the necessary experience to properly administer medication and will ensure that your loved one will be taking it as directed and on time, as well as being able to refill their prescriptions.

A medical alert system may also be a great option in conjunction with a caregiver. The devices can remind your senior to take their medication, set up automatic refills, and even get them in contact with a doctor to obtain a refill or prescription if needed. Together your senior will be able to remember when and how to take their medicine, leaving you with less anxiety about their well-being. If you want to find out more about some of the best systems, we’ve researched and rated our top medical alert system for you.



Every person will likely experience some level of forgetfulness as they age, but when forgetfulness becomes a common occurrence, there can be negative, or even dangerous, ramifications. The level of forgetfulness can range from small things such as misplacing keys, glasses, or difficulty remember names, to bigger things such as forgetting their address or name, leaving appliances on or forgetting to lock their door. Problems retracing their steps, forgetting to pay bills or failure to properly handle their expenses and finances are among other issues that plague aging adults. If your loved one is experiencing greater amounts of forgetfulness, it may be time to add in a caregiver to support them in these areas. Of course, finances may be a task to take on yourself, but many of the other aspects of forgetfulness can be resolved with the presence of someone providing extra care. Because of the safety concerns that come along with forgetfulness, it is important to jump on getting help for your loved one before more serious problems arise.


Decrease in Social Interactions

A final reason that may lead you to consider home care are signs of withdrawal from social settings. Some seniors will decrease the amount of interactions with others, including friends, family, neighbors, or even coworkers.  There are a number of reasons that an aging loved one may isolate themselves from these types of social situations. One could be a feeling of embarrassment that they cannot manage on their own. Another could be a general loss of enjoyment, or even a feeling of loneliness. Caregivers not only help with general tasks at home, but can provide automatic company and companionship for aging seniors. It gives your loved ones the opportunity to have someone around without fearing judgement or embarrassment, and with a caregiver, they may feel the courage to continue doing the things they used to love.

The best advice when it comes to an aging loved one is to trust your gut. If you feel deep down that your parent is unable to do everything on their own or you have general concern, your instincts may be right. It’s also always important to take your concerns to a doctor or specialist, who can advise you on next steps along with practical ways to help your family or loved one. It’s also important to broach the subject with compassion. Oftentimes aging seniors do not want to admit that they need help because they are afraid to ask. If you approach the situation with caution and care, the response you get will likely be positive and appreciative. There are many great options out there for home care, and the additional help can give seniors the opportunity to age in comfort and grace.



Alzheimer’s Association

Home Helpers

National Association for Home Care and Hospice