The holiday season is upon us, which means it’s time for a crucial “holiday reality check.” If you haven’t visited with your senior loved ones in a while, the holidays provide the perfect opportunity to take note of how they’re doing. With hectic schedules or long distances keeping families apart for so much of the year, warning signals can easily be missed. Be on the lookout for the following warning signs that additional care may be necessary to keep seniors safe, and remember that the purpose is not to judge or complain; it’s a check for wellness, wellbeing and safety.
Outward appearance: The unkempt appearance of a senior loved one may be noted during a holiday visit. Failing to maintain daily hygiene such as showering, tooth brushing and other basic grooming may indicate health problems such as dementia, depression, or physical impairments. Check to see if clothes are clean and if the senior appears to be engaging in good grooming habits.
Weight loss: At the dinner table, the older adult’s appetite may seem to be just fine over the holidays, but noticeable weight loss may be a sign that something’s wrong. For seniors, weight loss could be the result of many issues, such as problems with cooking or reduced smell or taste. Additionally, weight loss can point to a more serious underlying condition, such as malnourishment, dementia, depression, or even cancer.
In the home: Any major changes in the way things are done around the older adult’s home could provide clues to his or her health. For example, burn marks on cookware could indicate forgetting about food cooking on the stove. Ignored housework could be a sign of depression, dementia, or other concerns. Check to see if the lights are working properly, the heat is turned on, the bathrooms are clean, and make sure that no clutter is blocking the walkways of the home.
If you notice warning signs like these, or other general mood or personality changes, talk to your senior loved one about care choices. While it may seem easier to put off challenging conversations until after the holidays, it’s much better not to wait until a real crisis occurs. Be reasonable with your expectations, and understand that the senior may be opposed to the discussion initially. The important thing at this time is to open the lines of communication.
Need help starting the home care conversation with a loved one this holiday season? Contact the elder care Lake Forest IL professionals at Partners in Senior Care at 847-548-1330 today for information on keeping seniors safe with our professional home care services.