20 Questions Every Family Caregiver Should Ask

According to the National Family Caregivers Association, more than 50 million Americans provide care for a chronically ill, disabled, or aged family member or friend during any given year. Nearly all of us will face this situation at some point. 

These 20 questions will help you consider key factors as well as accurately and realistically evaluate your loved one’s condition. 

  1. Will you be the only one providing care for your loved one?
  2. If you will have help caring for your loved one, does s/he have the names, addresses and emergency phone numbers of the other caregivers (i.e., family, friends, neighbors, home care services, etc.)?
  3. Does your loved one ever leave the home (i.e., to visit a senior center, for social reasons, to attend church, etc.)? If so, when?
  4. Do other family members live nearby? Even if they are not providing care, does your loved one spend time with them?
  5. Does your loved one belong to any social organizations or faith-based groups? If so, does s/he have the names, addresses, and phone numbers of those friends and acquaintances?
  6. Does your loved one receive any kind of assistance (i.e. financial, medical, personal, etc.)? If so, is it temporary or permanent?
A Day in the Life
  1. How does your loved one get around home? Does s/he use a cane, wheelchair, stability bars, walker, etc.? If so, how often does s/he use assistive devices, and for what types of activities?
  2. Does your loved one have a daily routine? Identify activities that are of particular difficulty (i.e., climbing up stairs, bathing, traveling to outside activities, cooking, cleaning, etc.).
  3. What kinds of activities and hobbies does your loved one enjoy? What are his/her favorite shows, books, magazines, etc.?
  4. Does your loved one have special dietary needs that must be taken into consideration? If so, can s/he still go to the grocery store alone? Does s/he need assistance shopping for items to meet those dietary needs?
  5. Does your loved one have any pets? If so, can s/he provide adequate care for the pet(s)?
  6. What, if any, medication does your loved one take? Be sure to note all medications and keep a schedule tracking when to take them and how much to take (dosage).
  7. Does your loved one have any trouble taking medications? If so, how? Be sure to address any challenges s/he may have — or assistance s/he may need — in taking medications.
  8. Does your loved one have insurance? Does this insurance cover all of his/her needs?
  9. Does your loved one have any wills or trusts? Would you be able to locate these important documents if needed?
Everyday Surroundings
  1. Where does your loved one live (i.e., house, apartment, condo, city or rural, etc.)?
  2. Does the size of your loved one’s living quarters match his/her needs (i.e., too big, too small, adequate room to exercise, too big to keep up with daily chores, etc.)?
  3. Are there any barriers (i.e., stairs, difficult doors, rough walkways, etc.) that make the living situation more difficult? If so, what can be done to alleviate these challenges?
  4. Are your loved one’s living quarters secure? Does s/he have the ability to evade unwelcomed visitors (i.e., scammers, solicitors, etc.)?
  5. How far is your loved one from neighbors and/or other people?
Be sure to use this guide to evaluate your loved one’s condition on an ongoing basis. Caring for a loved one is an honorable but challenging task that may eventually require the assistance of medical professionals. For more tools, tips and useful links, please visit our Resource Center, or click here for tips on how to discuss home care with your loved one.