A guide to assessing if your parents need more help at home

A guide to assessing if your parents need more help at home

It can be very difficult to assess whether or not your parents or relatives need more help at home. No-one wants to admit that they struggle with everyday tasks. For many the idea of more help at home is just the slippery slope to losing their independence – so parents may well hide things from you.

We have identified key things to look out for and questions to ask to give you a sense of whether your parents might need more help at home.

  • Look around the house and garden to see if things are less well cared for than they used to be: is the house looking messier than it used to, especially kitchen and bathroom? Is laundry piling up and clothes left un-ironed? Is post unopened?
  • what to do next assessing 768x355Money: are bills getting paid, or are there reminders in the post? If you are able to look at a bank statement, does it look like spending patterns have changed?
  • Medication: if they take medication, do they have dosette boxes for their pills and do they seem to be being taken regularly – lots of full packets in the kitchen drawer or the bathroom cabinet?
  • Personal hygiene: are they wearing clean clothes and do they appear to be looking after themselves – hair, shaving, teeth? Can they still get into the bath/shower? It may be worth asking this question directly, as this is often a real challenge as mobility reduces.
  • Clothes: are they over or under-dressed for the weather?
  • Food: check the fridge to make sure food is (reasonably) in date and to see if they appear to be eating regular meals. Are they still able to cook or heat food safely?
  • Mobility:  can they still get up and down stairs if they have them? Are they able to walk to shops or public transport, or to drive themselves safely?
  • Hobbies and socialising: are they still doing the things they have enjoyed doing until now? Are they getting out to see friends or go to activities?assessing if your parents need help 768x355
  • Ask someone: ask a neighbour, cleaner or friend perhaps how they think your parents are doing – particularly if they see them on a regular basis; it’s not a great feeling to be “spying” on your parents, but might be best in the long run;

What to do next

You may need to take things slowly, suggesting some extra cleaning help at first, while you investigate other help such as care agencies or carers. There are also charities that provide help from shopping to driving or companionship. The Norfolk County Council has a great page detailing varying levels of support available in Norfolk.


There is often an informal network already in place such as the cleaner or perhaps a neighbour who are only too pleased to do a bit more, particularly if it gives some breathing space to find longer term solutions. It can be much easier to start by increasing the involvement of people already familiar to your parents, people who they already trust, and who they may see more than they do you!

You should also encourage them to talk to their GP, or the Norfolk County Council who can carry out a supported assessment, as well as a carers assessment if needed, to provide a plan regarding the care that they need.  This could range from adaptations to the home through to moving into a care home.

To find out if your parents are eligible for support at home and possibly funding, visit our Norfolk County Council Care Assessment page.