Senior Home Care Blog - Western Cook & Eastern DuPage Counties

Is Your Loved One Safe at Home?

By Mary L. Doepke, RN

First and foremost, holiday visits are about spending time with those we love. But they also can be an important opportunity to assess an aging loved one’s condition and the safety of their home.

Many people are determined to stay in their homes as they age. But is it safe to do so? As you enjoy your holiday visits this year, watch for these signs that it might be time to call in some help or even to re-evaluate a loved one’s living arrangements.

What is the condition of the house and yard?

If your typically neat and tidy grandmother is living in a house with an overgrown lawn, broken appliances or dirty dishes in the sink, this might be a sign that she needs some help around the house.

Keep in mind that people typically tidy up before company arrives, so if your loved one’s house is disheveled during your visit, you’re probably seeing it at its best.

Assess your loved one’s appearance

We’re not talking about a fashion review. Rather, take a look at whether your loved one is caring for herself. Is she practicing proper hygiene? Are her clothes clean and does she change them each day?

What’s in the frig?

A refrigerator full of expired condiments and rotting leftovers is a red flag that your loved one might not be eating properly. Look also for weight loss, lack of energy and tooth trouble, all of which could point to malnutrition.

Take note

Is the house littered with notes that your loved one has written to himself? While occasional reminders are useful to most of us, an abundance of such notes could mean your loved one is struggling to remember day-to-day tasks.

They’ve got mail

Stacks of unpaid bills might mean your loved one is struggling to keep up with paperwork, or even that they’re struggling financially. Look also for piles of junkmail, especially letters from charities asking for money. Many elderly people feel obligated to send money in return for things like unsolicited address labels and greeting cards that arrive in the mail. Those small contributions could be causing your loved one a lot stress, and a lot of money.

Fender benders

Unexplained scratches and dents on your loved one’s car are concerning and could mean it’s time to talk about whether it’s safe for your loved one to drive. This is a difficult conversation, but one that is necessary for the safety of everyone on the road.

It’s also possible that things like sight or hearing loss are contributing to your loved one’s struggle to drive safely. For more information about how to stay safe behind the wheel as you age, read this Home Helpers blog post.

Learn more

You can learn more about how you or your loved one can age safely at home by attending a free workshop, Aging Safely at Home, at 6 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 10. Presented by the experts at Home Helpers, you will gain important information about making a home safe and leave with a comprehensive safety checklist. Register at (630) 686-1369.

Home Helpers can help

The presence of any of these indicators doesn’t necessarily mean it’s time for a move. A few visits a week from a Home Helpers caregiver could make the difference between someone struggling to live in their own home and doing so safely and comfortably.

Home Helpers caregivers can provide meal preparation, light housekeeping, laundry care, grocery shopping and personal care. Perhaps most importantly, they can provide companionship and relief from the isolation of living alone. As an added benefit, loved ones can rest easy knowing that their aging relative is being looked after and cared for.

For more information about how Home Helpers can help you or your loved one age safely at home, visit or call (630) 323-7231.