Wandering, Falls, Medication Mix-Ups and More: Warning Signs for Seniors Living at Home

As a parent or other loved one ages, they often need a helping hand with chores like housekeeping, home maintenance, driving to appointments. Eventually, however, you may start noticing signs that additional care is needed. The key is knowing what to be on the lookout for and what it may mean to your loved one’s overall health and well-being.  

These warning signs for seniors living at home are at the top of the list. 


Falls, even minor ones, can wreak more damage on an older adult than a younger person with often devastating results. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention article “Older Adult Fall Prevention” in 2019 falls caused the deaths of more than 34,000 people aged 65 and older and sent 3 million to the emergency room. Among the most serious non-fatal injuries for seniors are hip fractures and of the more than 300,000 that occur in older adults each year, more than 95% are from falls.  

One of the most common warning signs for seniors living at home to watch for are balance problems which can have a variety of causes. According to the National Institute on Aging article, “Older Adults and Balance Problems” balance can be impacted by medications, inner ear diseases and infections, alcohol, and medical conditions like heart disease, vision problems, diabetes, and balance disorders that cause dizziness, blurred vision, and confusion or disorientation. 

Medication mix-ups 

Medication is often essential to the health of seniors who may take several throughout the day. But when medications are mismanaged it’s one of the warning signs for seniors living at home that something is going on. Missing doses, mixing-up medications, or taking too many can be signs that a senior can no longer manage taking medications on their own. There are several ways to help, as outlined in the bemedwise.org article “Medication Management for Older Adults,” but it may also be time to consider a more comprehensive level of care, such as medication management in assisted living. 


One of the scariest warning signs for seniors living at home is when they leave home unaccompanied and become disoriented or lost. Wandering is a well-known sign of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease and requires an extreme level of care to keep a senior safe at home, including around-the-clock care so they are never alone. Other possibilities include child locks, doorknob covers and safety latches, but often these are not enough and memory care may be the best alternative. Learn more about wandering and why it occurs in the NIA article, “Wandering and Alzheimer’s Disease.” 

Download our FREE guide, “Staying Home vs. Senior Living – Should you stay or should you go?”

Poor personal hygiene 

Neglecting personal hygiene is also one of the warning signs for seniors living at home and can have several underlying reasons. For some it’s just a matter of needing help because it has become too difficult to do alone, but a lack of personal hygiene can also signal mental and physical problems such as depression, dementia, and physical challenges like arthritis and should be addressed to pinpoint the cause or causes as described in the senior health 365.com article, “Poor Personal Hygiene in the Elderly.” 

Forgetting important things 

Forgetting where you put something can happen to anyone but forgetting to turn off the stove or not be able to recognize familiar faces and places are warning signs for seniors living at home. While some memory loss is normal in seniors, forgetfulness that gets in the way of everyday life should be discussed with a physician to determine what is really going on. For a look at what forgetfulness means check out the NIA article “Memory, Forgetfulness, and Aging: What’s Normal and What’s Not? 

One perfect solution 

Any of the warning signs for seniors living at home can mean more care is needed, often much more, to ensure a senior remains safe and healthy at home. For many families, it can become a tremendous burden putting a strain on relationships, and the caregivers own health. But seniors who need more care can get exactly that in a community like Thrive Senior Living. Whether in assisted living where daily help is available with personal hygiene, medication management and general safety, or memory care where residents can retain their dignity and get therapies to help them minimize the effects of memory loss in a secure home, families will have the peace of mind they cannot get when a senior lives at home. Find out more in our blog, “At-Home Care or Senior Living? Making the Right Choice.” 

Thrive Senior Living offers luxury living that can include all the care you need, when you need it, as well as amazing meals, lots of fun and active things to do in a caring and welcoming community. Download our free guide, “Staying Home vs. Senior Living – Should you stay or should you go?” to learn more about what senior living has to offer, and contact us to learn more about life at Thrive! 

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