• Lori Williams

5 Red Flags When Visiting Aging Family Members


Many of us live hours or even states away from our aging family members, which can make it difficult to pick up on clues or red flags that they may need help. During the holidays, families come together for in person visits and are often shocked to see how much a loved one has declined over the past year. We see a significant uptick in the numbers of calls we receive in January from families who’ve gone home and realized that their loved one needs help. The following Red Flags will help you know what to look for.

1) Change in Physical Appearance – is your mom, wearing the same clothes over and over? Is there noticeable weight loss? Any unexplained bruises or cuts to indicate they may have fallen?

2) Emotional Well-Being –signs of depression or anxiety? Have they become withdrawn or isolated? Do you notice forgetfulness or are they repeating themselves?

3) Home Environment – how does the house look? If the house was always spotless and now cluttered and dirty that’s a red flag. Look for fall risks such as blocked walkways, throw rugs, poor lighting. Check the refrigerator for moldy or expired food? Check the bottoms of cookware for scorch marks. This could be a sign that they are forgetting food cooking on the stove.

4) Finances – are there stacks of unopened mail? There may be bills that haven’t been paid or the same bill paid 2-3 times. Ask them to allow you to have access to their account and set them up on autopay. Be on the lookout for odd withdrawals. Unfortunately there are lots of scammers out there who prey on the elderly.

5) Driving – take a ride with them, just to see how they’re driving. Running stop signs? Driving too slow or too fast? Any new dents or dings in the car or garage?


If you don’t notice any of these red flags, it is still a good time to start a respectful conversation with your loved ones to find out what their future wishes are. If you notice one or more red flags, it’s time to dig deeper to find out what’s going on. There are many services that can be added to help keep them safe and independent at home, or it may be time to move to senior housing. There are lots of options available, and it’s not one size fits all.


Our senior experts are available to help you find the resources you need to ensure your loved one is safe at home, or to guide you through the steps involved in moving to a senior living community.


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