• Jenni Perkins

Recognising when help might be needed

No-one wants to lose their independence, and it can be difficult to consider the possibility that as we age we may need help.

It often rests on family members to recognize the signs that an older family member might need support at home. It can be hard to decide when to start the conversation, or when there may be a need to seek medical help to assess if there are underlying health issues contributing to a change in behaviour.

Warning signs that an older person living at home may need help, include:

· changes in eating habits resulting in missed meals and weight loss

· neglecting personal hygiene and grooming

· a change in behaviour – exhibiting paranoia, becoming agitated, making phone calls at all hours

· neglecting the house, not doing the cleaning or extreme clutter

· loss of interest in and stopping previously enjoyed social activities

· unopened mail, mislaid items, unpaid bills and missed appointments

Frailty can also be an indicator of the need for some additional support. Increased frailty has been shown to be associated with falls, longer stays in hospital and greater difficulty recovering from illness and surgery.

The Australian Positive Ageing Resource Centre has developed a simple online five step frailty screen ( to help identify when support may be needed to help manage the effects of ageing. Upon completing the online survey, the respondent receives a summary of the results and individual recommendations.

Through timely planning, the right support at the right time can maintain an older person’s independence and quality of life and keep them connected and safe at home.

For more tips, go to Live Well Longer - ageing at home free resource 'Signs More Help Might be Needed' .

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