As you and your loved ones age, it’s natural to start worrying about health and safety, but how do you know when it’s time to seek help? How do you decide what kind of help you or your loved ones need?

The key to maintaining independent living is recognizing the signs that a family member may need assistance in their home.

Here are some signs that it might be time to bring in elder care services:

  • Evidence of falls, such as bruises or wounds
  • Weight loss, diminished appetite or unwillingness to prepare meals, spoiled food in the refrigerator
  • Problems with walking or balance, getting up or down or transferring in and out of bed
  • Diminished driving skills or recent car accidents
  • Evidence of changes in personal grooming or hygiene, such as dirty clothes or unkempt hair
  • Forgetting to take medication or get prescriptions refilled
  • Unclean or cluttered home
  • Unpaid bills or paperwork piling up
  • Changes in relationship patterns
  • Unusual purchases, such as multiple subscriptions for the same magazine or increased purchases from television infomercials
  • A loss of interest in socializing or in activities that were once enjoyed
  • Confusion, memory loss, difficulty concentrating or changes in personality
  • Increased forgetfulness evidenced by missed appointments, unopened mail, or frequent loss of items
  • Inappropriate behavior, such as increased vulgarity or making phone calls at strange hours

So what are the next steps for elder care?

After you have noticed signs that your loved one might be in need of some assistance, you should do some research so that you have an idea what kind of help is available in the area. This will enable you to suggest solutions when you speak to your loved one and other family members.

Suggesting solutions such as home care services might help to ease your loved one’s mind, as most seniors prefer to stay in their own home.

We are blessed in the Lowcountry with a very active support community for seniors that is very happy to provide information including in-home care agencies, care managers, the Area Agency on Aging, senior centers, elder law attorneys and the Coalition on Aging.

The first step is to ask for help.

Keeping you or your loved ones safe and as independent as possible can be achieved with proper assistance.

James Wogsland, MBA and Certified Senior Advisor, is co-owner of ComForCare Home Care, and Chairman of the Beaufort County Walk to End Alzheimer’s.;