As your parents age, you are often forced to make difficult decisions about medical, financial or safety issues that you aren't prepared to make. This guide looks at the top indicators you should be "on the look out for" in considering whether your loved one can continue to live alone. The following list will help you to identify if your parent could benefit from home care services, placement in an assisted living facility or a nursing home.

1. Disorientation or confusion about who they are, who other family or friends are, where they are and what day, time or year it is.

2. Forgetfulness about doctors appointments, taking their medications, eating meals, paying bills, names, addresses, phone numbers, etc. (Both the first and second indicator go beyond typical memory issues that come with aging as these can cause issues with safety.)

3. An increase in car accidents (if they are still driving) often indicates a deterioration in vision, slowed reflexes, general physical weakness, mental confusion or forgetfulness of the rules of the road. (Please note- if this is happening, a decision needs to be made immediately concerning the safety of your parent and others on the road.)

4. Changes in personal hygiene indicated by wearing the same clothes over and over. Not showering or bathing, not getting haircuts, brushing or washing hair, not shaving or wearing dentures are also issues to consider in whether your elderly loved one can continue to care for themselves without assistance.

5. Home or yard is not being maintained. This could indicate that completing household tasks is becoming too difficult or forgetfulness as to where cleaning items are located.

6. Strange or unusual behavior may include dressing in warm/heavy layers in hot weather or cool/light layers in cold weather.

7. Not eating as much as usual could indicate they are forgetting to eat or that meal preparation has become too difficult.

8. An increase in falls and injuries which can are known by bruising, complaints of pain, increase in frequency of calls for assistance to either life line companies or family and friends. These injuries could be indicative of poor balance and coordination, weakness, impaired vision or forgetfulness.

While it can be a challenging moment when you are faced with the decision to find assistance for your loved one, it is important to be aware of the indicators so you can keep your loved one, and others, safe.

Author's Bio: 

Attorney Amy Beth Baron is uniquely qualified in the areas of law and elder care. Practicing law for over 12 years, she is also a Registered Nurse, Certified Nurse Life Care Planner and Certified Case Manager. She is trained in mediation for the areas of elder care, nursing matters and family conflict. More information on elder law issues can be found at