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Signs Your Aging Parents Need Help at Home

Seniors want to hold on to their independence for as long as possible, which requires loved ones to pay particular attention to signs that they might need help at home. It’s often a traumatic event that will cause the elderly to realize that they need help and ask for it. 

Put yourself in the shoes of your parents—capable humans for most of their lives now faced with the reality of aging. It’s challenging and can be depressing. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) claim “more than one out of four older people fall each year, but less than half tell their doctor. Falling once doubles your chances of falling again.” As a loved one, it’s important not to allow it to escalate to that level before intervening. Below we outline a number of signs to look for when considering if your aging parents might need help at home. 

Signs Your Parents Might Need Help at Home

Difficulty performing daily activities

  • Going to the bathroom, walking, eating, bathing, and dressing 

Changes in appearance or hygiene due to inability to perform daily activities

  • Odorous smell due to lack of bathing
  • Changes in sleep patterns 
  • Unkempt appearance (e.g., uncombed hair, untrimmed nails, etc.)
  • Weight gain or loss due to poor diet 
  • Signs of wounds, bruises, or burns on their body that could indicate recent falls or trouble cooking

Physical clues your parents are neglecting house chores

  • Lack of general house upkeep (i.e., dirty or excessively cluttered)
  • Unopened mail, unpaid bills, shut off utilities 
  • Stains, wet spots, or odorous smell around the house that could indicate incontinence
  • Refrigerator empty or food rotting 
  • Unfilled prescriptions, pills spilled on the floor 
  • Scratches or dents on the car that show unsafe driving
  • Stools or urine from pets or other signs of animal neglect

Changes in mental or behavioral ability

  • Lack of motivation or interest in favorite activities 
  • Extreme mood swings or verbally-abusive behavior 
  • Difficulty keeping track of time or returning phone calls 

If your parent is exhibiting one or more of these signs, it may be time to look into whether some form of home health care might be an appropriate intervention. Often, personal care options are an excellent starting point. Home health care is a cost-effective alternative to long-term care, such as nursing homes, and often provides a better patient experience and reduces rehospitalizations. At Constellation, our compassionate caregivers include certified nursing assistants and home health aides who provide the following personal care services under the supervision of a licensed nurse:

  • Live-in & hourly services
  • Personal care, including bathing, showering, dressing, and toileting
  • Walking or transferring
  • Companionship
  • Light housekeeping & laundry
  • Medication reminders
  • Transportation for appointments and errands
  • Grocery shopping & meal preparation
  • Assistance with an exercise regimen
  • Appointment and calendar management
  • Support & respite for family caregivers
  • Pet care
  • Hospital discharge assistance

Learn more about our personal care services.

As you look into the best ways to provide help for your parents, it’s also essential to research how service providers choose caregivers. Considering seniors could be in denial that they need help at home, matching compassionate caregivers to loved ones is especially important. 

How Constellation Chooses Caregivers

Caregivers are chosen based on client needs, availability, and where the caregiver lives. However, there is so much more that goes into selecting a caregiver. “When asked what I do for a living, I sometimes joke and say, ‘I’m a matchmaker for the elderly,’” said Heather McGhie, the Director of Personal Care at Constellation. “They want to know more, so I explain that so much of my job is choosing the best fit for my clients.” The following are elements of Constellation’s caregiver selection process that make us different.

1.We consider the physical need. If a client requires help with bathing and grooming, dressing, meals and diet, mobility, incontinence, Hoyer lift, 2-person transfer, we will choose a caregiver who has experience with this. 

2. We interview the loved ones of the person setting up care. “That means I have to know all of my caregivers,” McGhie continued, “and when I do an assessment—which these days are usually over the phone—I have to be very creative about how I find out who will be the best. I ask the adult son/daughter or whoever is setting up the services to tell me about the client, and they do, but I need more to make that perfect fit.”

3. We get personal. “The best way I have been able to do that during the pandemic is to ask them if they have a favorite aide that comes in and cares for them,” she said. “What do they like about them? Is there a specific aide they are not fond of, and why? Some clients prefer a caregiver to sit in the other room and only come when called, while other clients want the aide to sit and chat with them all day long. I have mastered this skill over the years and love working with my staff to pass along this skill.” 


Constellation is a family-owned, family-centered organization serving the Northeast. We have remained true to our commitment to providing the best patient experience and the highest quality outcomes. We believe this is accomplished by ensuring that everyone we connect with feels valued, trusted, and heard. Learn more about our approach to home health care and contact us today. 

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