Ready or not, the holiday season is upon us! 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’s very common to notice changes in older family members you have not seen in person for some time. It’s important to know the red flags to look for that may point to the need for help at home.
What Changes Should I Look for in Older Loved Ones This Holiday Season?
Changes such as these might be an indication that safety may be compromised:
Missed medications. If the individual uses a pill box, check to make sure medications have been taken up to the current time. You may also want to have a look at prescription pill bottles for dosage details, and watch to see if the individual is taking the correct amounts at the right times during your visit.
Decline in personal hygiene. Take note if the person 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, combing hair, brushing teeth, and wearing clean clothes may indicate health problems such as depression, dementia, or physical impairment.
Lost weight. The person might appear to have a hearty appetite during holiday meals, and might otherwise appear to be healthy, but obvious weight loss without trying can signal that something is amiss. A person who is losing weight may have trouble preparing meals, have a reduced sense of smell or taste, or may even have a serious underlying condition, such as cancer.
The condition of the home. Any major changes in the ways the home is maintained can offer insight to the individual’s wellness. For example, burn marks on pots could mean the person is forgetting about food cooking on the stove. A decline in housekeeping may suggest 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.
Mobility changes. Does the individual appear unsteady on their feet? Have you noticed any bruises or other injuries which could 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 in four older adults, and can result in serious injury.
I Am Noticing Some Warning 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 doctor. You may be tempted to wait until after the holidays so as not to disrupt the family festivities, but the sooner your concerns can be addressed, the better.
One great way to help a loved one maintain independent living at home while remaining safe is by partnering with Home With You Senior Care for customized in-home care services. We help adults continue to live safely in the homes they love for a lifetime.
The people we serve remain in control of their lives and daily decisions, while our trained, experienced caregivers provide just the right level of support through services such as:
- Providing accompaniment and transportation to medical appointments and outings
- Helping with transfers and walking
- Offering companionship to alleviate loneliness, isolation, and boredom
- Preparing healthy and balanced meals
- Assisting with light housekeeping and laundry
- And much more