For many family caregivers, deciding when or if your loved one needs in-home care is one of the toughest decisions you will ever have to make. Family members may disagree about what the best course of action is, and your loved one may be overwhelmed by the idea of outside assistance. Talking to them about it can also be just as difficult. If you have any concerns about your loved one’s ability to safely thrive at home, even with one important daily task, it may be time to take a more active role in your loved one’s health. 

The following list can help family members and friends quickly assess a loved one’s condition, identify potential areas of concern, and make important caregiving decisions:

1. They were recently diagnosed with a serious illness:

Older adults that have been diagnosed with a serious illness may need health literacy education and/or skilled care, such as a licensed Nurse, Physical Therapist, or Occupational Therapist to manage their symptoms and stay out of the hospital. Some of the conditions that are often managed with home health care include:

  • Heart failure and other cardiac conditions
  • Stroke
  • Diabetes
  • COPD and other respiratory conditions
  • Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of memory loss
  • Parkinson’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis and other progressive neurological conditions
  • Cancer

Older adults who need help recovering from surgery, were recently hospitalized, or had a change in health status may also benefit from home health care. 

2. They recently had a fall: 

Aging often brings changes in balance, strength and ability to move around with ease. You may see your aging loved ones holding onto furniture while walking through the house or looking unstable when standing up from a seated position. Or you may know they recently had a fall. Even if they didn’t get hurt, falls can be a sign that your aging loved ones need help. 

Understandably, many older adults react to a fall by moving around less. But moving less can make it even harder to do daily activities and increases the risk of falling again. Your loved ones may or may not share their mobility challenges, and bruises can indicate that they’re having trouble. A professional caregiver can offer a helping hand when walking, moving, and climbing stairs, and they can serve as an extra set of eyes to ensure that the home is as safe as possible.

3. They regularly forget to take their medications or take the wrong medication:

If you look at your loved one’s pill bottles, are there too many pills left, or not enough? Are their medications organized or spread all over the house? Research shows 25% of older adults take at least five medications to treat chronic conditions. About 50% do not take their medications properly. While medication mistakes are common, skipping doses or taking too much medication can lead to serious health complications. A Home Health aide can help with medication management and ensure your loved one receives their medication correctly according to their prescription. 

4. They’re having trouble eating or swallowing

Do your aging loved ones cough or choke during or after meals or while taking medication? Do they make gurgling sounds like they need to clear their throat, or have a constant runny nose? Swallowing problems can cause your loved ones to stop taking their medications properly or avoid eating and drinking, which could result in dehydration or poor nutrition. Hiring a caregiver is a helpful solution if your loved one needs assistance getting to the grocery store, making meal plans, or if they don’t have the energy or ability to cook. They could also help with feeding and liquidating foods for those who can no longer swallow them whole. Home care is individualized, and can be adapted to your loved one’s needs and preferences. 

5. Emotional Changes

A shift in moods with both familiar and new people may point to pain or struggles with chronic conditions that your aging loved ones don’t want to share but which might need medical attention. Aging brings a cascade of physical and emotional changes, which can lead to a variety of behavioral changes. Be alert to warning signs, but it’s normal for older adults to have bouts of sadness, anger or the occasional memory lapse. Look out for safety issues and at the overall condition of the home, and try to determine the older person’s mood and general health status. Sometimes people confuse depression in older people with normal aging. A depressed older person might brighten up for a phone call or short visit, but it is harder to hide serious mood problems during an extended visit.

6. They’re unable to perform daily tasks independently

Can they move from the bed to a chair unassisted? Can they walk from the chair to the toilet? If there’s a general sense that your loved one needs help with these activities of daily living including grooming, household maintenance, and running errands, that may mean it’s time to hire an outside caregiver who can help ensure your loved one’s general well-being. If there is no one who can assist them 24 hours a day, seven days a week, trying to perform these tasks on their own could lead to injuries or illnesses. 

Summing it up:

After a parent or older loved one has dedicated their life to taking care of you, it can feel natural to want to return the favor in their later years. By looking out for early signs of declining health, you can put together a plan to help them stay independent as long as possible. Renaissance Home Care is pleased to assist with any questions you may have about how to decide on the proper care for your loved one. Visit our website to make an inquiry or call either our Pittsburgh or Philadelphia locations. Renaissance is passionate about providing home care for the ages. 


The information in this blog is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen. 

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