Signs that a Loved One Needs Help

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We all love our independence and certainly want to support our loved one's desire to live independently, too. But what if you begin to notice things that are calling into question their safety and well-being? How do you know when it's time to intervene? What are the signs to look for? Who can you turn to for help?

At Visiting Health Services, we've developed a helpful assessment tool to help you evaluate how your loved ones are doing and if they need some extra help from a professional.

Let's begin with physical health.

Do they have a chronic illness such as diabetes, severe arthritis, or high blood pressure? Or do they suffer from a more serious illness such as cancer, stroke, or heart attack? Have they put on or lost a lot of weight that is unexplained? Fallen down? Are they having trouble walking, sleeping, or driving?

Next, consider their mental or behavioral health.

Are they showing signs of confusion, forgetfulness, isolation, or depression? Have they been diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder, Alzheimer's or other form of dementia? Have you witnessed drastic mood swings, sadness, or loneliness?

How about daily living skills?

Can they dress themselves? Bathe, comb their hair, climb stairs, use the phone? Can they safely cook and prepare their meals, drive their car, go to the store, or do light housekeeping?

Make note of their appearance and hygiene.

How would you rate their overall appearance? Are their clothes clean? Do they bathe regularly? Brush their teeth daily?

It's very important that your loved ones take their medications properly.

Are they routinely taking their medications? How many do they take and what are they for? Are their medications being purchased at the same pharmacy so a pharmacist can look out for possible conflicts in their medications? What are the side effects?

What about their interests and lifestyle?

Have they lost interest in their favorite hobby or stopped doing things they used to love like gardening, reading, going to church, or seeing friends? Loss of interest, isolation, and lack of energy could mean they are depressed or ill.

What about bills and finances?

Are they keeping up with their bills? Spending their money wisely? Can they afford to pay for the things they need like food, electricity, gas, or medicine?

It's important to know your loved ones are safe at home.

Is the apartment or house being kept up? Can they get around in it easily and safely? Is the neighborhood safe? Are the smoke and burglar alarms working?

Finally, do they have friends and family support?

Do family members or friends live close enough to routinely visit and check up on them?