Checking on Your Senior Loved One During Holiday Visits
If you’re visiting a long-distance parent or other older relative during the holidays, this may be the first time in a long while that you’ve seen them in person. The pandemic interrupted our quality face-to-face time with a lot of people. With older loved ones, it also took away opportunities to see first-hand how they’re managing at home and whether they need some help.
Even if you see your older loved one on a regular basis, there are things you can watch for that may tell you they need help around the house or are perhaps ready for a new level of care.
- Housekeeping and clutter. Is there an unusual amount of clutter around? Are bills going unpaid? Is the home less clean than usual? Are easy fixes going undone?
- Medications. Is your loved one taking their medications when they should?
- Personal grooming. Is your loved one less “put together” than usual? Are clothes dirty, or inappropriate for the weather?
- Eating habits/nutrition. Is your loved one eating healthy foods and maintaining their weight? Are they drinking a sufficient amount of fluids each day to stay hydrated?
- Behavioral/mood changes. Do you perceive differences in your loved one’s mood, demeanor, or memory?
What should the family do? Whether you begin a discussion now or after everyone’s returned home, it is vital to include the older person in the conversation. You may find that your older loved one doesn’t feel they have a problem that needs to be solved. Or perhaps the changing family dynamic – with grown children now taking responsibility for their parents – is disconcerting for the elder. We see this often, and you may be interested in this blog post on the topic.
If your older loved one agrees to accept help, can family members take care of any tasks – housecleaning, helping with bill paying, etc.? If not, look into local resources that can help, such as housecleaning, grocery or meal delivery services, and senior transportation. If it seems like an assisted living or other senior living community may be a good option, begin the search sooner rather than later. One of our Aging Life Care Professionals® at LifeCare Advocates can help with all of this, easing the family’s load by helping them make decisions and managing the process.
Remember that the goal is to keep your senior loved one safe while preserving his or her dignity and enabling him to maintain the highest level of independence possible. If this process doesn’t seem to be going well, enlisting the help of an Aging Life Care Professional can get everyone on the same page. Please contact us if we can help.