Early signs that care is needed

How do you know if you, a loved one or a caregiver needs assistance or relief? Learning to recognize the early signs of need for a loved one or symptoms of caregiver stress will assist you in evaluating your or your loved one’s needs. While everyone is different, there are common considerations that you can look for to determine the necessary level of care.

Signs you or a loved one may need assistance The following checklist will help you identify your care needs. With this information, your health care provider can help you customize a care solution. You can print this checklist and check the box next to any items that you have recently observed.

Do you or your loved one…


  • Feel forgetful, confused or lost
  • Mix up or forget to take medications
  • Miss doctors’ appointments
  • Overlook things that pose a safety concern
  • Struggle to pay bills or buy food
  • Receive a lot of junk mail
  • Write checks or withdraw money to make payments to unfamiliar people or companies
  • Act secretive while on the phone

Emotional and Social

  • Feel lonely or depressed
  • Feel frustrated or stressed
  • Take less interest in things previously enjoyed
  • Avoid people and social interaction

Physical and Medical

  • Sleep more often or have less energy
  • Notice a change in eating habits
  • Have difficulty walking, dressing, eating or bathing
  • Have trouble cleaning or maintaining a household
  • Fall more often or bruise more easily
  • Need medical attention or additional personal care
  • Take medication that you think needs to be adjusted
  • Need daily/weekly treatments, such as dialysis or IV therapy
  • Use medical equipment, such as an oxygen tank

Memory loss and confusion can be signs of Alzheimer’s disease.

Signs a caregiver may need assistance
We all want to provide the best care for our loved ones. But that can be hard, especially if one is also caring for young children and aging parents at the same time. The stress can take its toll and cause a variety of emotions. To provide good care, caregivers must take care of themselves. While it’s hard to find a spare hour, taking a break to do something enjoyable can do wonders for one’s health. Caregivers, though busy, should try to eat nutritious foods and exercise regularly. They should tell someone if they start to feel overwhelmed, tired or ill. Ignoring personal needs can lead to health problems and neglected relationships.

Caregiver Stress Checklist
There are universal signs of caregiver stress that, if not addressed, can lead to burnout. Use the following Caregiver Stress Checklist to discuss any concerns with your health care provider.

Do you, as a caregiver, feel…

  • Angry that things are the way they are
  • Anxious about facing another day
  • Defensive about your loved one’s condition and its effect on others
  • Embarrassed by your loved one’s behavior
  • Exhausted because of ever-present concerns and sleepless nights
  • Frustrated that you can’t do more or that you are missing out on life
  • Ill, either physically, mentally or both
  • Irritable because nothing seems to go right
  • Rushed because you don’t have as much time as you would like
  • Sad that your loved one needs care
  • Uncomfortable caring for your loved one

Caregivers experiencing any of these feelings should talk with family, friends or health care providers. For more information on caregiver stress, search the Internet for words such as “caregiver stress” or “warning signs for care.”

Respite Care
Respite care is a short term relief program offered in a variety of care settings, such as nursing home/Skilled Nursing Care centers. It gives both caregivers and loved ones a break. In respite care, a skilled care professional assumes caregiver responsibilities for a predetermined and usually brief amount of time.

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