Worrying about the care of an elderly loved one is always a stressful time not only physically, but also emotionally. This stress only increases as loved one becomes harder and harder to care for. Stress tends to peak at an all-time high when the question then becomes whether the loved one is able to still provide effective care for himself or herself or whether it is time to seek outside help, such as moving their loved one to a senior living community. This is a difficult question to answer as it is concerned with both the practicalities of the situation and the emotions of those involved. To help take some of the guess work out of the decision, we have developed a list of red flags that can indicate that it is time to take the next step and reach out for additional help with your loved ones care.

Physical Red Flags

– Take a good look at your loved one’s recent health history. Have he or she had an accident such as fall in recent times? Falls and accidents tend to increase as an individual gets older. Did it take your loved one longer than normal to recover from their accident? The time of recovery also increases. So pay attention to whether your loved one took longer to recoup from their accident.

– Now take a good look at your loved one. Sometimes it is very easy not notice physical body changes in our loved ones, especially if you see them frequently. Had your loved experienced drastic weight change? Do they seem to be as strong as usual? Or do they struggle to stand up? Can they balance while standing? Or do they wobble when they walk or stand? Balance, strength, and weight are all good indicators of the individual’s overall health. A change in these areas can indicate a decline in health and can lead to increase in accidents such as falls.

Self-care/Care Red Flags

– Watch to see how your loved one is taking care of his or herself. Are they able to still suitably dress themselves? Do they still cook? Are they still doing laundry properly? Are they properly cleaning themselves and are they groomed? All of these questions are aimed at checking whether your loved one is able to effectively care for themselves on a daily basis. If the answer is that they do need help it might be time for you to ask for help.

– Check your loved ones plants and pets. Do his or her pets look properly cared for? Is there enough food or water in the house for them? Are litter boxes clean? Are the pets properly groomed? Are plants still well-tended? Are they brown? Or are they dead? If your loved one has not yet experienced self-care red flags, these red flags can be an early warning that they may soon not be able to care for him or herself as they are not able to care for plants and pets under his or her care.

Living Environment Red Flags

– How is mail being handled? Is it stacked high unopened? Are bills being looked at and paid? Are newspapers being ignored? Make sure to check the mailbox and the yard as your loved one could be not checking either or both areas on a regular basis.

– Does the yard and the outside of the house look tidy and manicured? Signs of an unkempt yard can be an early indication that your loved one is having a more difficult time handling tasks they usually could tackle in the past.

– How about the inside of the house. Does is it look clean? Does it smell clean? Are their spills that appear to be dry? Is their clutter that used to not be there? Issues with tidiness are not only a sanitary issues, but clutter—especially on the floor can be a tripping hazard.

– Now check the kitchen. The kitchen is one of the most dangerous rooms in the house when someone is neglectful. Does the kitchen appear to be in regular use? Is it clean? Are dishes piled in the sink? Is their spoiled or expired foods in the fridge or pantry? A dirty kitchen is a sanitary issue as are expired or spoiled food. Are their extraneous multiples of items—like 12 jars of tomato sauce? Are there any broken appliances? Are there are singe marks on the walls or stove? Do pots appear too burned beyond repair? Excessive food or staple items also indicate early signs of dementia as can accidental kitchen fires, which are common danger to those who are having difficulty taking care of himself or herself.

If you observe one or more of these red flags when around your loved one it might be time to consider moving him or her into a senior living community. This can still be a very difficult decision to make, but is ultimately beneficial for not only the loved one, but the loved one’s family in the end. By ensuring that your loved one is properly cared for, you have peace of mind and your loved one is able to receive the care they need without feeling like a burden on his or her family.