140 Questions to Ask the Elderly About Their Health

Talking health with our elders is about connection and care, not just ticking boxes on a health checklist. Our questions should touch on wide-ranging health aspects while honoring their self-respect and wisdom.

I’ve put together a list of thoughtful inquiries that aim to uncover their health landscape with gentleness and empathy, showing we value their voice. In every conversation lies the chance to listen wholeheartedly, support meaningfully, and prioritize their well-being.

General Health and Wellness

  1. How have you been feeling overall lately?
  2. Are there any new health concerns you’ve noticed?
  3. Have there been any changes in your appetite or weight?
  4. Can you tell me about your daily physical activity routine?
  5. Do you experience any pain or discomfort on a regular basis?
  6. Have you noticed any changes in your vision or hearing?
  7. Are there any health areas that you feel have improved or deteriorated recently?
  8. How well do you think you’ve been maintaining your health?
  9. Do you have any persistent skin conditions or changes in your skin health?
  10. Have you had any recurring headaches or dizziness episodes?
  11. Can you describe how well you’ve been sleeping?
  12. Do you feel you have the same levels of energy as before?
  13. How frequently do you find yourself needing to rest or take breaks?
  14. Have you had a recent health checkup, and what were the outcomes?
  15. Are you experiencing any respiratory issues or changes in your breathing?
  16. Have there been any changes to your bowel movements or urinary habits?
  17. Do you feel confident in managing your daily health needs?
  18. Are your vaccinations and preventive screenings up to date?
  19. Have you noticed any changes in your sense of taste or smell?
  20. Are there any health-related areas you’d like to discuss or need help with?

Medication and Treatment

  1. Can you list the medications you are currently taking?
  2. Have you been experiencing any side effects from your medications?
  3. When do you typically take your medicine, and do you need reminders?
  4. Have you missed any doses of your medication recently?
  5. Is there any medication that you think isn’t working as intended?
  6. Have there been any changes to the medications prescribed to you?
  7. Do you have a system in place to manage your medication intake?
  8. Are you clear about why each medication has been prescribed for you?
  9. Do you have someone helping you manage your medication regimen?
  10. Have you had any allergic reactions to medications in the past?
  11. How do you obtain your medications, and do you face any challenges with access?
  12. Are you currently undergoing any form of therapy or rehabilitation?
  13. Have you been adhering to the treatment plan advised by your healthcare provider?
  14. Are there any over-the-counter drugs or supplements that you are taking?
  15. Do you have any concerns or questions about your current treatments?
  16. Have there been any recent hospitalizations or surgeries?
  17. When is your next scheduled appointment for a treatment or check-up?
  18. Have you been able to communicate effectively with your healthcare providers?
  19. Are there any alternative therapies or treatments you have considered?
  20. Do you have all the information you need concerning your health insurance and how it covers your treatments?

Mobility and Physical Function

  1. How would you describe your ability to move around independently?
  2. Have there been any falls or incidents where you felt unsteady?
  3. Do you use any aids or supports to assist with mobility?
  4. Have you noticed any changes in your strength or coordination?
  5. Are there any daily tasks or activities that have become more difficult for you?
  6. How is your balance, and have you experienced any difficulty walking or climbing stairs?
  7. Do you feel safe when you are moving about the house?
  8. Have you been able to participate in exercises or activities that you enjoy?
  9. Are there any concerns about leaving the house on your own?
  10. Have you made any modifications to your home to enhance safety or accessibility?
  11. Do you have a way to call for help if you experience mobility issues?
  12. Is bending or reaching for objects something that you find challenging?
  13. Have there been any changes in your hand-eye coordination or dexterity?
  14. Can you describe any joint pain or limitations in your range of motion?
  15. Do you have any strategies in place to prevent falls or injuries?
  16. Are there specific movements or activities that cause you pain or discomfort?
  17. How often do you engage in mobility exercises to maintain your independence?
  18. Have you worked with a physical therapist to address any mobility concerns?
  19. If needed, could you access transportation assistance for errands or appointments?
  20. Do you feel you need more support with your mobility than you currently have?

Mental and Emotional Health

  1. How has your mood been in general these past few weeks?
  2. Have you experienced any episodes of confusion or memory loss?
  3. Do you feel socially active and engaged with friends or the community?
  4. Are there any particular stresses or concerns affecting your peace of mind?
  5. How often do you find activities that keep you mentally stimulated?
  6. Have there been times you’ve felt down, depressed, or hopeless?
  7. Do you engage in hobbies or interests that you find fulfilling?
  8. Have you noticed any changes in your sleep patterns, like insomnia or oversleeping?
  9. Are there any events or activities that you look forward to?
  10. How supported do you feel by your family and friends?
  11. Do you feel that you have someone to talk to when you’re feeling upset or troubled?
  12. Have you been coping well with changes in your life, such as retirement or the loss of a loved one?
  13. Do you feel anxious or worried about your health or other aspects of your life?
  14. How would you describe your overall satisfaction with life at the moment?
  15. Are you experiencing frequent moments of forgetfulness or difficulty concentrating?
  16. Have you had any recent changes to your medication that might affect your mood or cognition?
  17. Have you been keeping up with news, books, movies, or other ways to stay engaged intellectually?
  18. How comfortable do you feel discussing your emotions and mental health with your healthcare provider?
  19. Are there any resources or support groups that you find helpful for your mental well-being?
  20. Have you had any disturbances in your behavior that others have noticed or commented on?

Dietary and Nutritional Information

  1. How would you rate your diet in terms of nutrition and balance?
  2. Are you able to prepare meals for yourself, or do you have assistance?
  3. Have you observed any changes in your taste that affect your eating habits?
  4. Are there any foods or drinks that you’ve been advised to avoid?
  5. Can you describe your typical daily meals and snacks?
  6. Do you stay hydrated throughout the day with enough water intake?
  7. Are there any difficulties you face with grocery shopping or meal planning?
  8. Have you been taking any dietary supplements or vitamins?
  9. Do you have any dietary restrictions or allergies that need to be accommodated?
  10. How often do you eat out, and do you feel you have healthy options when you do?
  11. Are you involved in any nutritional programs or receive meal delivery services?
  12. Have you experienced any issues with chewing, swallowing, or digestion?
  13. Do you have a routine for eating meals at regular times each day?
  14. Have healthcare professionals provided you with any nutritional guidance?
  15. Are there any cultural or personal preferences that influence your diet?
  16. How confident do you feel in managing your nutritional needs effectively?
  17. Have you had any unintentional weight loss or gain in the past few months?
  18. Do you actively avoid certain types of food for health reasons?
  19. Are you satisfied with the variety and taste of foods in your diet?
  20. How do emotional factors affect your eating habits, if at all?

Sleep Patterns and Energy Levels

  1. How many hours of sleep do you tend to get each night?
  2. Do you have a regular bedtime and wake-up routine?
  3. Have you experienced any new or worsening sleep disturbances?
  4. Do you take any sleep medication or use methods to improve sleep?
  5. How rested do you feel upon waking up in the morning?
  6. Are there particular times of the day when you feel most tired or energetic?
  7. Do you nap during the day, and if so, how often and for how long?
  8. Do you have a comfortable sleeping environment, free of noise and light disruptions?
  9. Have you noticed any patterns that affect your sleep quality, like diet or activity level?
  10. Do you face any breathing-related issues, such as snoring or sleep apnea, that disrupt your sleep?
  11. Have any lifestyle changes recently affected your sleep or energy levels?
  12. Do you engage in relaxation techniques or bedtime rituals to help you sleep?
  13. How often do you feel the need to take stimulants like caffeine to stay awake?
  14. Have you discussed your sleep patterns with your healthcare provider?
  15. Are there any worries or thoughts that seem to keep you awake at night?
  16. Have you been diagnosed with any sleep disorders?
  17. What is your level of activity and engagement during the day?
  18. Have you noticed any correlation between your physical activity and your sleep quality?
  19. Are your energy levels consistent throughout the week, or do they fluctuate?
  20. Do you feel that your sleep and energy levels are adequate for your everyday needs?

Health Management and Doctor Visits

  1. When is your next scheduled medical appointment?
  2. Do you feel comfortable and understood by your healthcare providers?
  3. Are there any exams or screenings that you are due for?
  4. How do you typically get to and from your medical appointments?
  5. Have you encountered any obstacles with healthcare accessibility or insurance coverage?
  6. Do you keep a health diary or record your medical history for reference?
  7. Are you up to date with your immunizations, including the flu shot?
  8. How do you manage to follow through with the doctor’s recommendations and treatment plans?
  9. Have there been any significant changes in your health since your last doctor’s visit?
  10. Do you have any issues or questions that you’ve been meaning to discuss with your doctor?
  11. Are there any medical procedures you’ve undergone recently, and what were the outcomes?
  12. Do you have a list of emergency contacts, including healthcare providers, easily accessible?
  13. Have you noticed any side effects from treatments or medications since your last visit?
  14. Do you actively engage in conversations and decision-making during your healthcare visits?
  15. Are there any specialists that you see regularly for your health concerns?
  16. Do you feel that your medical concerns are taken seriously and addressed in a timely manner?
  17. How would you describe the level of coordination among the various healthcare professionals you see?
  18. Is there a plan in place for managing chronic conditions or unexpected health issues?
  19. Do you seek second opinions or consult with other healthcare providers when necessary?
  20. How confident do you feel about navigating the healthcare system and advocating for your needs?

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some sensitive health topics, and how should I approach them with the elderly?

Sensitive health topics for the elderly might include discussions about:

• End-of-life care
• Cognitive decline
• Incontinence
• Mental health issues such as depression or anxiety

When approaching these subjects, it’s important to do so with respect, patience, and empathy. Begin by creating a comfortable and private setting for the conversation.

Ensure you’re not rushing the discussion and that they feel heard and understood. Use open-ended questions that allow them to express their thoughts and feelings without pressure.

It’s also beneficial to let them know why you’re asking these questions—that you care about their well-being and want to support them in the best way possible. Be prepared to listen more than talk and respect their wishes if they’re not ready to discuss certain topics.

What should I do if an elderly person is reluctant to talk about their health?

If an elderly person is reluctant to talk about their health, it’s important to approach the situation with sensitivity and understanding.

Start by building trust and rapport through regular, non-intrusive conversations. Make it clear that your intentions come from a place of genuine concern and that the information they share will be used to their benefit. Sometimes, sharing a bit about your own health or experiences can encourage openness.

It’s also crucial to respect their privacy and autonomy—acknowledge that they have the right to decide what they want to share.

If appropriate, involve a healthcare professional they trust or consider gently reminding them that discussing health issues can improve their quality of life and independence.

Remember that patience is key, and it may take several attempts before they are willing to open up.

Final Thoughts

Asking the elderly these questions will give you a better sense of their overall health, potential risks, and how best to care for them in the future. Caring for the elderly can be a difficult task, but it’s one worth taking on. After all, they’ve spent their lives taking care of us—now it’s our turn to return the favor.

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Jessa Claire is a registered healthcare provider. Music lover. Daydreamer. Thalassophile. Foodie. A hardworking Capricorn. Most days, an incurable empath. An old soul. Down-to-earth. Vibrant. When she's not writing, she can be seen relaxing with headphones on or engrossed in her favorite fan fiction book.