Ready or not, the holiday season is here! As you prepare for family gatherings, there’s something more to take into account besides which gifts to buy, what dishes to prepare, and just how far off your diet you are willing to stray. During holiday celebrations, it is very common to notice changes in older loved ones you have not seen in person for some time. It is important to be aware of and look for the warning signs that could point to the need to explore how in-home care helps older loved ones.
What Changes Do I Need to Look for in Older Family Members This Holiday Season?
Changes such as these could be an indication that safety might be compromised:
Decline in personal hygiene. Take note if the individual has always been meticulously dressed with not a hair out of place, but now appears unclean or disheveled. A decline in daily hygiene such as showering, brushing teeth, combing hair, and wearing clean clothes may indicate health problems such as dementia, depression, or physical impairment.
Lost weight. The person might appear to have a hearty appetite during holiday meals, and may otherwise appear to be healthy, but obvious weight loss without trying can signal that something is wrong. An individual who is losing weight might have problems preparing meals, have a reduced sense of taste or smell, or may even have a serious underlying condition, such as cancer.
Missed medications. If the individual uses a pill box, check to make sure medications have been taken up to the present time. You may even want to have a look at prescription pill bottles for dosage details, and watch to see if the person is taking the correct amounts at the right times during your visit.
Mobility changes. Does the person seem unsteady on their feet? Do you see any bruises or other injuries that may indicate a fall? Pay attention as well to how they get up out of a chair and sit back down. Falls occur in as many as one out of four older adults, and can result in serious injury.
The condition of the house. Any major changes in the ways the house is maintained can provide insight into the person’s wellness. For example, burn marks on pans could mean the person is forgetting about food cooking on the stove. A decline in housekeeping may indicate early dementia or other problems. Check to make sure the lights are working, the thermostat is set to a comfortable temperature, the bathrooms are clean, and there is no clutter blocking pathways, either indoors or out.
I Am Seeing Some Red Flags in Someone I Love. Now What?
If you detect these or other concerning signs, the initial step is to schedule a consultation with the person’s physician. You might be tempted to wait until after the holidays so as not to disturb the family festivities, but the sooner your concerns are addressed, the better.
One great way to help a loved one maintain independent living at home while remaining safe is by partnering with Abby Senior Care for customized home care services. Our in-home care helps older loved ones to continue to live safely in the homes they love for a lifetime.
The people we serve stay in control of their lives and daily decisions, while our trained, experienced caregivers provide just the right level of support through services such as:
- Assisting with walking and transfers
- Providing accompaniment and transportation to medical appointments and outings
- Offering companionship to alleviate loneliness, isolation, and boredom
- Preparing nutritious meals
- Assisting with light housekeeping and laundry
- And much more