The simple answer is there is no easy answer. It depends on your family member. In some families, you may not know until something drastic happens. For example, your mother may fall in the bathroom and no one finds her for a day or so. Only after that happens will she admit to you she has been dizzy and feeling weak for a few months or has fallen before.

On the other hand, you may have a family member who complains about everything. In that case, it becomes exceedingly difficult to find out what the real problem is. The challenge here is determining whether the physical aches and pains are caused or exacerbated by depression or

The best advice we can offer is—ASK! Be blunt. Sometimes we have to discuss things that are uncomfortable, overly personal, even borderline inappropriate. However, addressing the potential issues before they become crises is especially important.

Keep in mind at all times, the person you are talking with is an adult, not a child. One of the greatest fears older adults have is losing control of their choices. Some do not want to become burdens on their families while others feel they are entitled to be cared for in a manner THEY deem appropriate. So, be honest when you discuss the things that worry you and be sure to involve the senior as much as possible in any decision-making.

Finally, while we are big advocates of seniors rights, we also recognize that safety is a major concern. If something truly is unsafe, you may need to act without first obtaining a family consensus.