How To Know If Help is Needed

National Institute on Aging

In some cases, the sudden start of a severe illness will make it clear that help is needed. In other cases, your relative may ask for help. When you live far away, you have to think carefully about possible signs that support or help is needed. You might want to use holiday trips home to take stock.

Some questions to answer during your visit include:

  • Are the stairs manageable or is a ramp needed?
  • Are there any tripping hazards at exterior entrances or inside the house (throw rugs, for instance)?
  • If a walker or wheelchair is needed, can the house be modified?
  • Is there food in the fridge? Are there staple foods in the cupboards?
  • Are bills being paid? Is mail piling up?
  • Is the house clean?
  • If your parents are still driving, can you assess their road skills?
  • How is their health? Are they taking several medications? If so, are they able to manage their medications?
  • What about mood: Does either parent seem depressed or anxious?

©2007 National Institute of Aging


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