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10 Signs That an Older Person May Need Help

Some people may need assistance, even if they don't ask for it

By Administration on Aging

Sometimes it's hard to know if an older friend or relative needs your assistance or greater attention from his or her doctors.  They may be reluctant to ask for help but you may notice things that need attention.

The Eldercare Locator, a service of the U.S. Administration on Aging, has identified 10 "warning signs” to help families of older adults determine if help is needed.
Has your family member or friend exhibited any of these 10 behaviors? 

  1. Changed eating habits within the last year resulting in weight loss, having no appetite, or missed meals.
  2. Neglected personal hygiene resulting in wearing dirty clothes, body odor, bad breath, neglected nails and teeth, sores on the skin.
  3. Neglected their home so it is not as clean or sanitary as you remember growing up.
  4. Exhibited inappropriate behavior by being unusually loud or quiet, paranoid, agitated, making phone calls at all hours.
  5. Changed relationship patterns such that friends and neighbors have expressed concerns.
  6. Had physical problems such as burns or injury marks resulting from general weakness, forgetfulness, or possible misuse of alcohol or prescribed medications.
  7. Decreased or stopped participating in activities that were previously important to them such as bridge or a book club, dining with friends, or attending religious services.
  8. Exhibited forgetfulness resulting in unopened mail, piling newspapers, not filling their prescriptions, or missed appointments.
  9. Mishandled finances such as not paying bills, losing money, paying bills twice or more, or hiding money.
  10. Made unusual purchases such as buying more than one magazine subscription of the same magazine, entered an unusual amount of contests, increased usage of purchasing from television advertisements.

Any one of the behaviors listed may or may not indicate that an action should be taken.  Your family member’s physician should be kept informed of physical or psychological behavior changes.


Eldercare Locator

Based on the Administration on Aging publication, "10 Warning Signs: Your Older Family Member May Need Help"


Administration on Aging
By Administration on Aging
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