Senior woman examines medication packet

Warning Signs for Seniors Living at Home

April 09, 2024

Wandering, Falls, Medication Mix-Ups & More

When you love an older adult, it’s easy to accept some of the changes they go through as a normal part of aging. Yet there are some warning signs for seniors living at home that can indicate it’s time to consider a lifestyle with more support and companionship, especially if they are basically on their own most of the time.

At The Herrick House senior living community on The North Shore, we want to help everyone maintain a high quality of life. Here are some things to look for that might help your family.

Warning Sign Behaviors

It’s quite possible your parent or loved one just needs an extra hand around the house. But these changes in behavior should not be ignored.

Forgetting Medication

It is estimated that as many as 55% of senior individuals fail to comply with medication instructions, putting their health at risk through non-compliance. Although unintentional, medication mismanagement can result in dangerous consequences when doses are doubled, or essential medications are missed altogether.

Some prescriptions should be taken at an exact time each day, or only taken with food. It also may be that swallowing a pill is becoming difficult for your loved one. It’s also easy to forget which pills have been taken, and which are scheduled for the day. Even with pill boxes and medication reminders, managing the proper intake of prescription medicine might become too confusing and warrant attention. Warning signs for seniors living at home include empty pill bottles, or unopened pill bottles.

Signs of Recent Falls

Falls are not an inevitable part of getting older and are often triggered by an underlying medical issue. Hypotension, vision problems and other health-related issues can cause dizziness upon standing which often leads to feeling faint and losing balance. Warning signs for seniors living at home include bruising, an unsteady gait, or even a growing tendency to not want to get up and do anything for fear of falling.

It’s a good idea to check your loved one’s home for potential hazards, such as slippery rugs, poor lighting, or rickety stairs, piles of newspapers or other items blocking walkways. Installing grab bars in the shower and raising the height of a toilet can be effective safety measures. In addition, consider taking your senior to their physician to rule out sudden changes in vision or loss of mobility. Reassure your loved one that your prime concern is their good health and quality of life.


Wandering is one of the most alarming warning signs for seniors living at home. It can range from getting lost frequently on short trips, to being confused about the layout of their own home, to wanting to go back to a workplace or home from years past. The cause can be cognitive impairment or conditions including Alzheimer’s disease. Seeing a physician is important to ascertain what is causing this behavior.

While it’s always advisable to have daily “check-ins” with an older loved one to monitor their safety, wandering brings a heightened sense of alarm because it can lead to a potentially dangerous situation. For many families, the occurrence of wandering is a sign that it’s time for a lifestyle where Mom or Dad is no longer living alone.

Cognitive Changes

Forgetting a name occasionally or missing an appointment on a certain day is normal. But if your loved one begins having problems balancing a checkbook, recognizing familiar faces, leaving the stove on or even remembering what a clock is for, the culprit could be MCI (mild cognitive impairment). Seeing a physician for an assessment will shed light on whether the condition is due to an illness or dietary imbalance, or whether it is the beginning of something more serious.

If the Warning Signs Are There, Now What?

Realizing an older loved one is no longer safe alone in their home can be upsetting both for the senior, as well as the family. But the future does not have to look gloomy, especially when there are so many outstanding choices today for supportive lifestyles.

For example, in assisted living at The Herrick House, your loved one enjoys all the privacy and independence of living in their own home, while receiving the care and camaraderie they need to maintain a healthy quality of life. Experienced caregivers assist with daily tasks, such as dressing, grooming, and medication management.

And should their needs change, The Herrick House Spectrum program is a specially designed, all-inclusive, memory care community that focuses on care for those who suffer from cognitive impairments, providing a lifestyle that promotes compassion, dignity, and respect in a safe and secure environment. Services include 24-hour on-site licensed nurses, with no-tier resident care services, medication administration, and an array of individualized failure free, goal specific social programs and activities.

Independence and Companionship

The Herrick House allows you or your loved one to continue the lifestyle you want in a warm and supportive atmosphere without the worries of maintaining a home. We’d love to tell you more.

For good health and peace of mind. Download our free guide, Should You Stay or Should You Go? How to Decide Between Home and Senior Living, or contact us. We’d love to hear from you.

Home Care vs. Senior Living

Learn about differences between home care and senior living.