The winter holidays are a time of year when many adult children travel home to celebrate the season with aging parents. This visit also gives them a chance to see firsthand how their older loved ones are doing.
Sometimes, the warning signs that a senior isn’t managing well are obvious. Repeated falls that have left the senior with bruises are worrisome. A banged up car can signal they aren’t safe driving.
Other times, it is a variety of small concerns that can add up to big trouble if left unaddressed.
As you head home for the holidays, here are some tips to help you objectively assess your senior loved one’s situation.
Is Your Senior Loved One Safe at Home?
Most adult children who live far away rely on phone calls to keep in frequent contact throughout the year. The holidays might be a rare opportunity for the two generations to connect in person.
Here are a few things to watch for during your holiday visit:
- Unintended change in weight: Gaining or loosing too much weight can be a sign of a serious issue, such as depression, dementia, or cancer. But it might also be caused by an unhealthy diet. Medical conditions like arthritis or vision loss can limit an older adult’s ability to grocery shop and prepare meals. This can lead to poor nutrition and even malnutrition.
- Unsteady walk: Falls remain the leading cause of injury among older adults. Everything from poor nutrition to medication side effects can make an older adult unsteady on their feet. During your visit home, pay close attention to how well your loved one moves, both through the house and when you are out and about in the local community. Does it seem like they intentionally avoid going up or down even a few stairs? Do they seem to be more sedentary than usual? Are there bumps and bruises on their arms and legs? These are all indicators they are at risk for a serious fall.
- Change in lifestyle: Ask your senior loved one how their friends are doing, especially those that you personally know. Also, inquire about hobbies and volunteer work they’ve been involved with. Does it seem as if they’ve dropped out of favorite activities or lost contact with friends? Isolated seniors are at higher risk for health conditions ranging from depression to heart disease and diabetes. Try to find out why they’ve changed long-standing habits.
- Personal hygiene: Another indication that a senior is struggling to maintain their independence is a change in personal hygiene. A close hug can reveal a lot about how well they are managing their personal care. If your mother has stopped wearing makeup or if your father’s hair isn’t as well-kept as usual, for example, it’s worth having a discussion about.
- Condition of the home: Maintaining a home is a lot of work at any age. For seniors, it can grow increasingly difficult. Early signs that something is amiss include piles of unopened mail on the counter, clutter, overflowing trash cans, dirty dishes, dying plants, and broken appliances not being repaired. Another sign of trouble is burned cookware, which might indicate that your parent is forgetting they have something cooking on the stove—a dangerous fire hazard.
If you notice the above signs during your holiday visit home, it might be time to consider the support of an in-home care agency or a move to a senior living community.
Visit Sunrise during the Holidays
The holidays are a lively and festive time of year to visit a Sunrise Senior Living community! We extend our warmest welcome to you and your family to join us for a tour and lunch at your convenience.
Call the Sunrise community near your senior loved one to schedule a time for a private visit!
Source: Sunrise Senior Living