Ready or not, the holiday season is upon us! As you prepare for family gatherings, there’s something more to take into account besides what dishes to prepare, which gifts to buy, and how far off your diet you are willing to stray. During holiday celebrations, it is very common to notice changes in wellbeing and safety in older loved ones. It’s important to be aware of and look for the red flags that could point to the need to consider home care.
What Changes Should I Look for in Older Family Members This Holiday Season?
Changes such as these could be an indication that safety might be compromised:
Decline in personal hygiene. Take note if the person has always been meticulously dressed with not a hair out of place, but now appears unclean or disheveled. A decline in daily hygiene such as showering, brushing teeth, combing hair, and wearing clean clothes may indicate health problems such as dementia, depression, or physical impairment.
Lost weight. The individual 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 amiss. Someone who is losing weight may have trouble preparing meals, have a reduced sense of smell or taste, or might even have a serious underlying condition, such as cancer.
The condition of the home. Any major changes in the ways the home is maintained can offer a clue to the individual’s wellness. For instance, 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 make 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.
Mobility changes. Does the individual appear unsteady on their feet? Have you noticed any bruises or other injuries that may 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 may result in serious injury.
Missed medications. In the event that the person uses a pill box, check to make sure medications have been taken up to the present time. You may also want to 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.
I’m Seeing Some Warning Flags in Someone I Love. Now What?
In the event that you detect these or any other concerning signs, the initial step is to schedule a consultation with the individual’s physician. You might be tempted to wait until after the holidays so as not to disrupt the family festivities, but the sooner your concerns can be addressed, the better.
One great way to help a loved one maintain independent living at home while remaining safe is by partnering with Hearts at Home In-Home Care for customized 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 just the right amount of support through services such as:
- Preparing healthy and balanced meals
- Assisting with transfers and walking
- Offering companionship to alleviate loneliness, boredom, and isolation
- Assisting with light housekeeping and laundry
- Providing transportation and accompaniment to medical appointments and outings
- And so much more