What are some of the signals that will indicate the need of in-home care?

What are some of the signals that will indicate the need of in-home care?


Most families will at some point, be confronted with the difficult and life-changing problem of deciding whether their loved one is in need of in-home care. HHS has in this section, provided you with checklists and questionnaires to assist you in making that decision. If you are certain that a member of your family might be in need of care, it is important that you seek professional advice and help for a determination of the type and extent of care they might need.

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There are usually some warning signs which will lead us to ascertain whether our family members need additional in-home care. The easy part about this is that these signs could be perceived by using three of our normal senses.

Visual Observation

A less than critical look at your loved one’s appearance may show that they are mentally or physically challenged in performing their normal activities of daily living. You might want to begin by asking yourself the following questions:

  • Is their home clean and well organized?
  • Are they as well groomed as they usually are?
  • Do they have food/drink stains on their clothes?
  • Have they brushed their teeth?
  • Is their hair properly combed?
  • Are they clean shaven as usual?
  • Do they wear their night clothes through out the day?
  • Do they seem to have any wounds or bruises on their skin?
  • Do they have freshly stocked food items in the pantry or are they expired?
  • Do they have prescriptions and medications from different doctors or pharmacies?
  • Are these prescriptions expired?
  • Do they have an unusual amount of garbage, mail or dust around the house?


A good clue into the mental state of our loved ones, especially seniors, is by listening to what they say.

  • Are they generally forgetful of recent happenings?
  • Do they speak normally?
  • Do they refer to you by name or do they call you by someone else’s name?
  • Are they abreast with current news items?
  • Are they making plans for the future?
  • Are they still engaged in their normal or recreational activities?


Another good clue into the mental state of our loved ones is by observing whether they are maintaining a clean home and good hygiene. This is done by recognizing unusual/unpleasant smells.

  • Does their refrigerator smell of decomposed or rotten food?
  • Do you perceive any unpleasant odors or foul smells around their home?
  • Do they have unusual body odor?

In sum, asking yourself most of the above questions, with the help of your three senses, will lead you to determine whether your loved one: looks good physically, is mentally sharp or dull, cleans their house routinely, eats well, is properly taking medication, is loosing weight or is otherwise engaged in performing his/her normal activities of daily living.

Now that we have, using our three senses, ascertained that our loved one is in need of care, how do we assess the kind of extent of home care they need?