Ready or not, the holiday season is upon us! As you prepare for family get-togethers, there’s something more to consider besides which gifts to buy, what dishes to prepare, and just how far off your diet you’re willing to stray. During holiday celebrations, it’s very common to notice changes in older loved ones you have not seen in person for a while. It’s important to know the warning flags to look for when visiting loved ones this holiday season. And if you do notice issues that need to be addressed, the great news is that home care helps older adults to maintain independence and safety.
What Changes Should I Look for in Older Family Members This Holiday Season?
Changes such as these may be a sign that safety could 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 disheveled or unclean. 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 wrong. A person who is losing weight might have trouble preparing meals, have a reduced sense of smell or taste, or might even have a serious underlying condition, such as cancer.
Missed medications. In the event that the individual uses a pill box, check to make sure medications have been taken up to the current time. You might also 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 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 out of four older adults, and can lead to serious injury.
The condition of the home. Any major changes in the ways the house is maintained can offer insight to the individual’s wellness. For example, burn marks on pans could mean the individual 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 is no clutter blocking pathways, either indoors or out.
I’m Noticing 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 physician. You may be tempted to wait until after the holidays so as not to disturb the family festivities, but the sooner your concerns can be addressed, the better.
Home care helps those in need of assistance during the holidays and throughout the year. One great way to help a loved one maintain independent living at home while remaining safe is by partnering with Inspired 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 remain in control of their lives and daily decisions, while our trained, experienced caregivers provide the ideal amount of support through services such as:
- Assisting with laundry and light housekeeping
- Offering companionship to alleviate loneliness, boredom, and isolation
- Helping with transfers and walking
- Preparing healthy and balanced meals
- Providing transportation and accompaniment to medical appointments and outings
- And much more