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Warning Signs

When Is It Time to Hire a Caregiver?

If you have aging loved ones who are living independently, chances are you may need to step in and offer assistance at some point. But how do you know when the timing is right and what type of help is available?  This guide is provided by Homewatch Caregivers and will give you tips on warning signs to look for at your next visit to your loved one’s home and what next steps you can take.

What to Look For


  • Expired or empty medications bottles
  • Unused or empty toiletry containers
  • Accumulated grime or unemptied trash


  • Piles of dirty laundry
  • Unwashed bed sheets


  • Stale or expired foods
  • Broken appliances or scorched pots and pans
  • Instant meals only and lack of fresh food
  • Multiples or excessive quantities of the same items
  • Shortage of food
  • Accumulated dirty dishes

Living Room and Office

  • Stained carpets and floors
  • Stacking/hoarding of dated materials
  • Dying plants
  • Neglected pets
  • Unpaid bills, late payment notices, traffic violation tickets
  • Thank you letter from charities or large quantities of sweepstakes envelopes
  • Unbalanced checkbook or notices from banks
  • Unchecked voicemail or answering machine messages

Car and Garage

  • New scratches or dents on the car
  • Dents in the garage doors
  • Out of date license or registration


  • Unpleasant body odor or changes in appearance
  • Unexplained bruising
  • Unusual weight loss or gain
  • Difficulty with walking, balance and mobility
  • Trouble getting up from a seated position
  • Changes in mood or extreme mood swings
  • Fatigue or problems staying awake
  • Noticeable change in memory


  • Neighbors express concern about change in relationships, inappropriate behavior or getting lost in the neighborhood


Next Steps

  1. Talk to your loved ones
    • Ask questions to identify what they are struggling with.
    • Identify if their goal is to remain in their own home or seek placement in Assisted Living or other care options.
  2. Communicate with their physicians
    • Understand what their diseases are and how to identify their red flag symptoms.
    • Establish if they are making and keeping their appointments and review their calendar.
    • Ask for an appointment where the physician can reconcile their medications to identify if there are possible side effects causing some of the problems.
    • Ask the physicians opinion on the appropriate level of care
  3. Identify appropriate Level Of Care
  4. Identify Available Resources
  5. Develop a plan with the inclusion and input of your loved one
    • Your assistance may be met with resistance, especially if your loved one feels “forced” or “coerced” into making changes
    • Take into account your loved one’s cognitive status and ability to make their own decisions
    • Offer changes gradually if the situation will allow. However, if your loved one is in an unsafe home environment, their safety should be the top priority.
    • Seek guidance and support from an outside source like a Geriatric Care Manager if needed


Information is provided in part by Homewatch Caregivers. Homewatch Caregivers provides quality and affordable in home care in Maricopa County. They have well trained and highly skilled staff that are licensed, bonded and insured. They are able to accept long term care insurance and have a simple pricing structure. They have been in business since 1980 and are family owned and operated and take pride in their civic involvement. They are available 24/7 by phone to answer your questions and meet your caregiving needs. For more information contact Laurie Fox at 602-953-2872 or visit them at


Article written by Rebecca Hampton, Lead Consultant for The Aging Advocate

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