It can be very hard to watch as your loved one who may be happy living independently starts to decline either physically, mentally, or both. You may not want to overstep or force yourself into a situation, but avoiding this issue could put your loved one or someone else in harm’s way. It is natural to feel guilt or a sense of insecurity if you are thrust into a decision-making position, especially when it’s regarding the care for a parent or spouse. The big question is, how do you know when it’s time? Everyone and every situation are different, but here are a few vital signs to watch out for.

Difficulty walking or unsteadiness. Do you notice your loved one holding onto things to help them steady themselves? Have they fallen or had near-falls? Your goal should be to help them avoid a situation where they fall and injure themselves or are “trapped” because they cannot get up and are home alone.

Driving becomes difficult. With age comes slower reflexes, declined mobility, and fading memory. Operating a vehicle when impaired is extremely risky, not only for your loved one but for others in the community. Your goal should be to make sure your loved one isn’t behind the wheel if impaired. If not for themselves, for those they might hurt if involved in an accident.

Not eating. Memory issues can create significant risks regarding cooking, including improperly using the stove or mixing up ingredients. Physical issues can create challenges for meal preparation, grocery shopping, sanitation, and can lead to scenarios where your loved one could be prone to choking. Suffering from malnutrition is terrible and leads to a compromised immune system, among other serious health issues. Your goal should be to help your loved one be as healthy and as safe as possible.

Lonely and unkept. Some people are naturally messy or, as a personal decision, don’t keep good hygiene. As people age, outlive friends and loved ones and face their own mortality, sometimes a sense of loneliness or surrender seems to take grip. If your loved one is struggling and appears to be unkept, more so than usual, they could be suffering. This could be a sign of loneliness or some other mental or physical challenge. Regardless of the reason, your loved one can quickly spiral down to a dark place, enhancing their mental or physical decline. Don’t let your loved one suffer from personal neglect. Your goal should be to help them maintain their personal dignity. 

The best time to start planning for helping a loved one is before they need help while they are still able to play the primary role in decision making. Often, decision making is influenced by finances and the cost of getting support. If you are concerned about yourself or a loved one and feel overwhelmed by the financial aspects of helping or getting help, one of our financial planners might be able to help you. Your initial meeting is free of cost and confidential — Call 607-217-5091 to schedule. 


Travis Maus is the managing partner and a wealth manager at S.E.E.D. Planning Group, LLC. He earned the Accredited Investment Fiduciary Analyst® (AIFA®) designation from the Center for Fiduciary Studies®, the standards-setting body for Fi360. The AIFA designation signifies the ability to perform fiduciary assessments measuring how well investment fiduciaries are fulfilling their duties to a defined standard of care. As a wealth manager, he is also a member of the firm’s Financial Planning team where he provides coordinated and strategic financial planning and investment services to families and small businesses.

S.E.E.D. Planning Group LLC (S.E.E.D.)is a Registered Investment Advisor (RIA) with the Securities Exchange Commission. S.E.E.D.’s team provides investment fiduciary and financial planning services to clients. Our fees are disclosed, easy to understand, and not predicated on product sales.