Signs that an older person may need help

It’s important to recognise the signs when an older person needs more support.

Whether it’s facilitating help at home, organising respite care or choosing a residential aged care for a loved one to move into, family and friends need to be alert to the signs of distress.


Carinity Clifford House resident Julie Coller and her husband Andy.

Below are a few of the signs that an older senior may need help and require professional support:

Tea and biscuits

When there’s little else in the pantry but biscuits, this can be a sign that a person is forgetting meals, not coping with shopping, or can no longer function in the kitchen. Check the cleanliness of crockery and cutlery, and look for signs of burnt saucepans.

Poor personal hygiene

Lack of attention to basic hygiene and neglecting oral health may indicate forgetfulness or lack of confidence and dexterity. Are clothes being washed or changed regularly?

Confusion or sleepiness

Confusion in an elderly person may indicate dementia or delirium, which may be caused by metabolic disorders, infections and medications. The misuse of medication or alcohol may be signs that a person is self-medicating to cope with distressing physical or mental symptoms.

Withdrawal and apathy

Withdrawal from community activities by a previously active person, unopened mail and missing appointments may be signs that a person is feeling weak, overwhelmed, anxious or confused. Neighbours and regular visitors also may notice changed or anti-social patterns of behaviour.

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