Family Holiday Get-togethers Create the Perfect Opportunity to Ensure Older Parents’ Well-being

Portait of a big family having fun while eating

This is the time of year when millions of Americans look forward to spending time with out-of-town family. The holidays provide an opportunity to take a pause from our daily lives and focus on spending time with the people we love. Sharing stories and gifts and giving thanks for life’s abundance has become part of an annual tradition for many.

For those who may see their parents only during the holidays, this may also be a time when they realize their loved ones are beginning to show signs that they are no longer living as robustly or as safely as they have in the past. Many children go home to discover a formerly healthy parent looking thin or frail, or a once immaculate home in disarray. These can be signs that a parent may need some outside help in managing their day-to-day activities.

Here are some other warning signs to look out for while you’re visiting an elderly loved one:

  • Forgetfulness – An occasional lapse of memory is probably nothing to worry about, but if you see recurring instances of forgetfulness – including repeating the same thing over and over – it may be a sign of a more serious problem.
  • Dangerous habits – Leaving the stove on, not locking the front door, taking expired medications or neglecting to turn off a garaged car are all red flags that something may be wrong.
  • Excessive clutter around the house or unkempt personal appearance – A cessation of normal personal hygiene and household cleanliness is often a sign your loved one needs help. This includes stacks of unopened mail and unpaid bills.
  • Depression or unusual mood swings – Changes in mood are common in people living with dementia and require a physician’s attention.
  • Isolation – If you discover your loved one has stopped seeing friends and seems to be spending more time alone, it may be time to intervene.
  • Weight loss – An unintentional decline in weight may signal the onset of disease or a side effect of medications. It can lead to a decline in the quality of life as well as increased mortality.
  • Lack of food in refrigerator and cupboards – No food in the house may mean your loved has lost interest in eating or needs assistance in getting to the grocery store.
  • Expired prescription medications – Take a look in your loved one’s medicine cabinet. Point out all expired medications. If there seems to be an excess of medications, ask your loved what they’re for. If they aren’t sure, talk to your loved one’s physician and/or pharmacists to make sure the combination of drugs they’re taking is safe and necessary.

If your loved one is living with diabetes, congestive heart failure, or other chronic condition, a LifeSource Home Health caregiver may be able to help. Our caregivers work with patients and their doctors to help them achieve greater independence and quality of life. Our rehabilitation therapists can also help those recovering from surgery, accident or illness. Our therapists work with patients to help them achieve maximum functionality and improve their overall well-being.

Reuniting with family during the holidays provides an excellent opportunity to assess your loved one’s living situation and help them get the help they need if they’re showing any of the warning signs mentioned above.

Categories: Caregiving, Senior Health