Have an elder family member or friend who isn’t eating (or eating cereal three meals a day)? Or whose refrigerator is empty? Or who seems to be mixing up their medications? Or whose apartment is a mess? Or who isn’t keeping themselves clean?

Perhaps your family member or friend would benefit for having help in their home. Or perhaps they need to move to another living arrangement, at least temporarily.

How can you help them? What should they, and you, do? The very first thing to investigate is whether your loved one has a medical problem – so a visit to the doctor may be needed.

Determining Needs

Decisions on home care or placement outside the home should only be made in light of a thoughtful evaluation of the person’s needs. How much care does your family member need? What kinds of care?

By taking a needs inventory, you can assess how well the person functions in daily activities. You’ll evaluate how well the person does in bathing, dressing, grooming, using the toilet, eating, shopping, preparing meals, taking medication, managing money and doing housework. And assess memory and cognitive functioning.

How is an assessment done?

You can do one yourself with a tool like the Needs Inventory available from H.E.L.P., or a professional from a care agency or social services agency can do it for you. Be sure to get copies of any completed assessments.

What it can tell you?

It can help show you what kind of assistance (and caregiver skill) is needed – by tabulating how well the person functions in each area. It can help with a decision about whether home care is a viable option, or whether moving to a different setting is required.

In a home care setting, home/personal care aides can assist with care such as bathing, dressing. A homemaker/choreworker can help with shopping, meal preparation and housework. If your loved one has medical needs, such as injections or oxygen, a home health-care worker is needed. Or needs might be met through other services such as home-delivered meals and money management programs.

Feel free to print out our free Needs Inventory form.