Ready or not, the holiday season is here! As you prepare for family gatherings, there’s something more to take into account besides what dishes to prepare, which gifts to purchase, and just how far off your diet you’re willing to stray. During holiday celebrations, it is very common to notice changes in older family members you haven’t seen in person for a while. It is important to be aware and look for the warning signs that could point to the need to consider home care to help seniors maintain independence.
What Changes Should I Look for in Older Family Members This Holiday Season?
Changes such as these could be an indication that safety might be compromised:
Missed medications. If the person 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.
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 issues such as depression, dementia, or physical impairment.
Lost weight. The person may seem 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 amiss. A person who is losing weight might have trouble preparing meals, have a diminished sense of smell or taste, or may even have a serious underlying condition, such as cancer.
Mobility changes. Does the person appear unsteady on their feet? Do you see 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 lead to serious injury.
The condition of the house. Any major changes in the ways the house is maintained can offer a clue into the individual’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 be sure the lights are working, the thermostat is set to a comfortable temperature, the bathrooms are clean, and there’s no clutter blocking pathways, either indoors or out.
I Am Observing Some Red Flags in Someone I Love. Now What?
In the event that you detect these or other concerning signs, the initial step is to schedule an appointment with the individual’s health care provider. You might be inclined to wait until after the holidays so as not to disrupt 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 Grace Home 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 maintain independence and remain in control of their lives and daily decisions, while our trained, experienced caregivers provide the ideal level of support through services such as:
- Offering companionship to alleviate loneliness, isolation, and boredom
- Helping with transfers and walking
- Preparing healthy and balanced meals
- Providing accompaniment and transportation to medical appointments and outings
- Assisting with laundry and light housekeeping
- And so much more