27- Oct2016
Posted By: Tony Fischer

Warning Signs An Elder May Have Trouble Living Alone

As the Holidays approach it is the time many people start making trips to visit elderly relatives. Sometimes those visits are shocking if the elder is struggling to maintain their health and home.

But judging whether or not an elder needs help at home can be challenging.  Family members and friends are often hesitant to confront the elder about the subject for fear of offending or hurting their feelings.  Others become frustrated when they try to help only to meet resistance from the elder.

Our elder care coordinators deal with this scenario everyday. But if you don’t have training, how can you tell if a senior needs help at home?  We have listed warning signs that could indicate an elder you know is struggling to live alone.

Unexplained Bruising

As we age we start to lose our balance.  This is especially true if the elder in question leads a sedentary lifestyle. Lack of exercise and activity can also lead to issues with strength and endurance.  Disease.malnutrition and dehydration can also play a role poor balance.

These factors can lead to falls resulting in bruising on the arms, knees, lower legs and even the face.

Elder’s understand that repeated falling is a warning sign which often leads them to cover up the accident in fear of losing their independence. If your elder is trying to cover up or has difficulty explaining bruises then they may be having frequent falls and should see their doctor as soon as possible.

Expired Food

Another major red flag is expired food in the fridge or cupboard.  We have all been guilty of letting canned food expired in our cupboard but if an elderly person is letting large quantities of food go uneaten that could be a sign of other problems.

If the elder has a decreased appetite, is unable to go shopping or is having difficulty making meals they are at risk for malnutrition and should get help to make sure they are eating healthy meals.

Also Read>>>Signs A Senior May Be Hungry

Poor Housekeeping

We all have different definition of clean.  For a guy living at home alone chances are the house will be a little more messy than usual.  But if the mess goes beyond the normal resistance to house cleaning that could indicate other medical issues.

Garbage left in the house could indicate that the elder is having difficulty disposing of the garbage properly because of a physical deficit. Stacks of unopened mail could indicate that the elder is having trouble maintaining the business of the household.  Stacks of papers, books and boxes could indicate the elder is having trouble putting things away in their proper place.

Although dirty houses aren’t life threatening if the clutter goes beyond the norm the elder may need help maintaining a clean a safe environment.

Dirty Clothes

Laundry is a part of everybody’s regular routine.  For and elder that everyday task of throwing a load into the washing machine can be very difficult. Especially if the elder has a diagnosis that limits their mobility and strength.

Dirty clothes also have an odor and are uncomfortable.  If the elder can’t clean their clothes they may choose to isolate themselves for fear of embarrassment.

If you notice that the elder is wearing dirty clothes or that the bed sheets and towels are dirty it could indicate they are having trouble doing laundry related to physical weakness or memory.

Decline in Hygiene

Keeping ourselves clean is something most of us take for granted but for an elder with physical or mental deficits it can be very difficult.  Some elders even avoid bathing for fear of falling in the shower.

If you notice a significant decline in the hygiene of your elder it could indicate a larger problem.

Planning is the Key

The issues listed in this post are warning signs but it doesn’t mean your elder can’t live at home alone. They just may need a little help with some of these tasks to eliminate risk factors and create a safe and healthy home environment.

Our elder care coordinators can help you develop a plan for your elder that will address these issues and extend the time they have to live in their own home independently.  Click Here for more information on our Senior Care Planning Services. 

Tony Fischer

As an advocate for elders and their families, Tony has experience in the entire healthcare continuum. He has worked in hospitals, nursing homes, home care, hospice, and non-profits.

His vast and unique experience led him to become a consultant that helps clients navigate the senior healthcare system. Tony also works hand and hand with healthcare providers to improve and streamline customer service.