How to Assess Needs

Family members often mistakenly attribute things like forgetfulness, poor housekeeping or a messy physical appearance to "old age."

Using your senses - sight, sound, smell, taste, touch - and the checklist below, you can check for signs your loved one may need additional care or assistance.

Sight: Changes in appearance or housekeeping can be a sign seniors are being limited physically or mentally from completing normal daily tasks. 
  • Do they get out of their nightclothes during the day?
  • Are they wearing clothes with food stains?
  • Is their hair completely combed?
  • Are they normally clean-shaven, but not now?
  • Do their teeth appear clean?
  • Does she continue to wear makeup?
  • How do their shoes look?
  • Is the house orderly and clean?
Sound: Listening to what seniors say and how they speak tells you about their mental status.

Smell: Your nose will tell you if your family member is bathing properly, keeping his or her home clean and eating regularly.
  • Does your loved one smell clean?
  • Does their living environment possess any unpleasant odors?
  • Does the refrigerator or the cupboards smell bad?
  • Is there an unusual amount or mail, garbage, clutter, dust or dirt?
Touch: A hug can tell you if your family member is fragile or losing weight, which could mean they are malnourished or be at great risk of injury.
  • Touch their skin. Is it soft, supple and the color normal?
  • Do they have unusual tearing or bruising of the skin?
  • Do they appear healthy?

Taste: Tasting seniors' food and sorting through their medications will help you determine if they are eating healthy or taking outdated or wrong medications.
  • Do they have fresh stocked pantry items? Check expiration dates.
  • How does their food taste?
  • Does the person appear to move around the kitchen safely?
  • Are there many different prescriptions? Have any medications expired?
  • Do they know what medications they are taking?
  • Do they take their medications at proper times?
  • Do the medications come from different doctors or pharmacies?