10 Eldercare Needs (Checklist)

Published In Health & Safety

The most effective way to manage the challenges of eldercare is to have an accurate picture of what the needs are. This checklist can provide a basis for an adult child to have a “what if” conversation with an aging parent, or at least an early warning that issues may need to be addressed in the not too distant future. Some signs to look for include:

  1. Mental and Behavior Status — Is your relative having problems (or significant loss) of memory or decision-making?  Wandering outside and confused where she is and how she got there?  Difficulty with comprehension or change in personality or mood swings?  For an accurate diagnosis, a neurologist should be consulted.
  2. Mobility — Is the person unsteady when walking? Does she have difficulty getting in and out of a chair or the bed? Many emergency room and hospital visits are a result of an accident in the home.
  3. Home Safety — Does the home present any danger of falls or trip hazards?  Are there safety features in the bathroom (grab bars; non-skid strips in the showers; shower bench)?  Is there good lighting throughout? Is the once spotless home now cluttered and untouched?
  4. Nutrition — Is there adequate food in the house?  Is it properly stored?  Is the food in the refrigerator fresh?  Does our relative eat healthy meals — or frozen entries and depend on food delivery services? How does the shopping get done?  Do the appliances work properly? Is there scorched pots or pans on the stove top?  Does the person’s health status or stamina make meal preparation difficult?
  5. Medications — Is there a good system for managing the medications? Does the person clearly understand the purpose for each of the medicines? Is there any confusion about how: the right dosage and when the pills should be taken (with meals/before meals)? Are any of the pills expired? Does remembering to take medications present problems? Are there any unpleasant side effects?Do any medications make your relative feel dizzy or wobbly?
  6. Driving — If the person is still driving, is he a competent driver? Is there a way to arrange some errands with him behind the wheel to see how things are going? If the person’s driving presents a risk, consider having his driving evaluated.
  7. Isolation — How much social contact does your parent have with others? Is there someone who interacts with her on a regular basis? Is there someone available who is willing to “check in” regularly to monitor how things are going?
  8. Bill paying — Is dad still capable of managing his household and financial affairs? Have the bills been paid in a timely way? Would an automated payment option be a possibility?
  9. Cash Flow — Is managing money a problem? Is mom at risk of financial abuse? Should access to finances be restricted to limit potential exploitation?
  10. Legal Paperwork — Is there a will or trust? Are Durable Powers of Attorney completed? Are you designated as agent or surrogate decision maker? Where are those documents kept?
  11. Unexplained Changes in Weight  — Is eating a struggle?  Is appetite decreasing? Has the relative gained weight quickly or, conversely, a significant loss?  Those could be signs of health issues (depression, dementia, mobility issues).  Encourage them to contact their doctor for an evaluation.
  12. Personal hygiene —  Is the smell of body odor or urine on her?  Can mom still shower, wash her clothes and her hair, brush her teeth? If not, is there someone who can step in with these tasks?

This checklist will come in handy when you have to assess the needs of your parent or older relative.


This article has been updated In December, 2023 since it originally published in March 2016.


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