Holiday visits sometimes greet family members with alarming signs that additional care or daily assistance is needed in the home of aging loved ones. With busy schedules or long distances separating families for much of the year, subtle (or not-so-subtle) indicators can easily be missed. This year, make holiday visits a time to evaluate the needs of elderly relatives, and encourage in-home care solutions that will enhance quality of life and ensure safety at home long after the holidays are over. Remember that checking for warning signs is not for the purposes of judgment or criticism; it’s a check for wellness, wellbeing and safety.

Right away, an unexpected disheveled appearance of a loved one may be noticed during a holiday visit. Failure to keep up with daily hygiene routines such as bathing, tooth brushing and other basic grooming could indicate health problems such as dementia, depression, or physical impairments. Inspect to see if clothes are clean and if the individual appears to be maintaining good grooming habits.

At the dinner table, appetites may appear to be healthy during the holidays, but noticeable weight loss without trying could be a sign that something’s wrong. For the elderly, weight loss could be related to many factors, including difficulty cooking or loss of taste or smell. Sometimes weight loss is a sign of a more serious underlying condition, such as malnutrition, dementia, depression, or even cancer.

Additionally, any big changes in the way things are done around the house could provide clues to health. For example, scorched pots could mean forgetting about food cooking on the stove. Neglected housework could be a sign of depression, dementia, or other problems. Check to see if the lights are working, the heat is on, the bathrooms are clean, or if clutter is blocking the walkways of the home.

But most importantly, during holiday gatherings, slow down and be sure to include elderly relatives in family traditions. After the holidays, if you’ve determined that additional care might be necessary for your loved ones, please do not hesitate to contact us at 603-217-0149. At Live Free Home Health Care of Concord, New Hampshire, we are here to help you determine the best plan of long-term care that will meet your loved one’s needs.

For further resources on recognizing care needs over the holidays, click here.