Red flags: symptoms to look for

Key symptoms to watch for include the following:
  • Your relative's hygiene has declined - he or she does not smell clean or does not change clothes regularly
  • He/she has gained or lost a significant amount of weight over a period of several months
  • He/she has grown more forgetful or confused
  • He/she sleeps a great deal more or less than previously
  • Your relative has unexplained bruises or other signs of injury
  • His/her eating habits have changed markedly
  • He/she has more difficulty walking or walks more slowly
  • He/she has lost interest in activities he or she used to enjoy
  • Your relative's feet or legs are swollen
  • Your relative is short of breath or coughs frequently
  • He or she has let the house fall into disrepair or let the bills go unpaid
  • He or she is irritable, cries frequently or has unusual changes in mood
  • He or she is more withdrawn or is reluctant to leave the house
  • Your relative is increasingly secretive or suspicious of others
  • He or she talks about feelings of hopelessness or about not wanting to live
THESE ARE SOME INDICATORS OF SERIOUS PROBLEMS REQUIRING PROMPT MEDICAL ATTENTION! This list does not include every possible problem. Check with the doctor regarding your older relative's specific health problems.

Information from Caregiving From Near and Far, with permission from the Baltimore County Department of Aging.