Elder care, often referred to as senior care, is specialized care that is designed to meet the needs and requirements of senior citizens at various stages. As such, elder care is a rather broad term, as it encompasses everything from assisted living and nursing care to adult day care, home care, and even hospice care.


Elder care is not always an absolute; in fact, some senior citizens never require any type of care to live independently in their later years. However, elder care often becomes an issue when a loved one begins experiencing difficulty with activities of daily living (ADLs), both safely and independently. ADLs may include cooking, cleaning, shopping, dressing, bathing, driving, taking meds, etc. A general decline in health is often the impetus for the introduction of elder care, as it may indicate a waning ability to independently handle activities of daily living. For example, senility, which usually comes on at a gradual pace, may mean that a person who once remembered to take medication on time is now having difficulty doing so. Failing eyesight may mean your loved one is gradually losing the ability to move safely about the house, or advanced arthritis may mean he or she is having difficulty getting in and out of the bathtub without assistance. The need for elder care may also happen quickly, as is the case if your loved one is recovering from a broken hip or recently had a stroke and is still suffering the cognitive and/or physical effects. What is constant, however, is that elder care may be needed when a health condition –whether physical, cognitive, or even emotional – hinders the ability to safely complete activities of daily living. Family members or a doctor are usually the first to recognize a need for elder care. The type of elder care that is right for your loved one, however, is largely dependent upon the type of health conditions he or she suffers from, the severity of the conditions, and the deficiencies experienced as a result. It is up to both your loved one’s medical team and the family members closest to them to keep a close eye on any changes that may affect the ability to safely complete ADLs without assistance. There are a number of warning signs your loved one may display or exhibit that may prompt you to seek outside help:

  • Physical problems

    1. Gait, stability (walking problems)

    2. Sensory issues (a loss or decline in hearing, seeing, smelling)

    3. Chronic health conditions (diabetes, heart disease, arthritis)

    4. Temporary or permanent physical limitations that may inhibit the senior’s ability to perform ADLs

  • Cognitive problems

    1. Confusion

    2. Memory loss

    3. Attention problems

    4. Forgetting to take meds on time, at the right time, or at all Language problems

    5. Dementia

  • Emotional problems

    1. Depression

    2. Social withdrawal

    3. Loneliness

    4. Changes in personality (irritable, angry, moody, etc.)

    5. Loss of interest in activities