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Look for the Signs



Indicators that your parent is unable to independently handle all of the activities of daily living:


Changes in appearance, such as dirty or unkempt hair, ragged fingernails, decaying teeth

Mismatched or soiled clothing

Body odor


Noticeable weight loss

Complaints of poor appetite, or loose-fitting dentures

Insufficiently or inappropriately stocked refrigerator and pantry

Expired or rotting food in refrigerator


Dirty dishes or laundry piled up

Accumulation of garbage

Excessive dirt or clutter

Unsanitary conditions, especially in the kitchen or bathroom


Accumulation of unopened mail, especially bills

Major credit card debt or large, inexplicable bank account withdrawals

Bounced checks

Inability to perform basic banking transactions, including writing a check


Non-compliance with medication regimes – look for prescriptions that haven’t been filled, and unused or expired containers of medicine

Lack of an organized system for managing medications

Prescriptions filled by a variety of pharmacies


Difficulty going from a sitting to a standing position

Poor balance

Poor walking endurance

Difficulty negotiating stairs within the home

Inability to safely access the community via walking, driving or public transit


Recent falls--be on the lookout for bruises or limping

Cluttered walkways or stairwells

Accidents with household appliances



Social withdrawal


Poor short-term memory


Inability to carry out familiar routines or follow instructions

Poor judgment stemming from lack of insight into needs and limitations



by:  Lisa M. Petsche

© 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003 Senior Citizens Magazine.com Vol IV Issue No. 3 March 2003


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