Ready or not, the holiday season is upon us! As you prepare for family get-togethers, there is something more to consider besides what dishes to prepare, which gifts to purchase, and 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 some time. It’s important to know the red flags to look for and the warning signs that may point to the need to consider in-home care services.
What Changes Do I Need To Look for in Older Loved Ones This Holiday Season?
Changes such as these could be a sign that safety might be compromised:
Mobility changes. Does the individual 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 in four older adults, and may lead to serious injury.
Missed medications. In the event that the person uses a pill box, check to be sure medications have been taken up to the current time. You may even want to have a look at prescription pill bottles for dosage details, and watch to see if the individual is taking the correct amounts at the right times during your visit.
The condition of the house. Any major changes in the ways the house is maintained can provide a clue into the individual’s wellness. For example, burn marks on pots 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’s no clutter blocking pathways, either indoors or out.
Decline in personal hygiene. Take note if the individual has always been meticulously dressed in daily hygiene such as showering, brushing teeth, combing hair, with not a hair out of place, but now appears unclean or disheveled. A decline and wearing clean clothes may indicate health problems such as dementia, depression, or physical impairment.
Lost weight. The individual might seem to have a hearty appetite during holiday meals, and might 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 problems preparing meals, have a reduced sense of taste or smell, or may even have a serious underlying condition, such as cancer.
I’m Seeing Some Warning Flags in Someone I Love. Now What?
In the event that you detect these or other concerning signs, the initial step is to schedule a consultation with the individual’s physician. 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 Live Free Home Health 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 stay in control of their lives and daily decisions, while our trained, experienced caregivers provide just the right amount of support through services such as:
- Preparing healthy meals
- Assisting with laundry and light housekeeping
- Providing transportation and accompaniment to medical appointments and outings
- Offering companionship to alleviate loneliness, boredom, and isolation
- Helping with walking and transfers
- And so much more