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Sometimes we do not see our loved ones as much as we would like. We speak to mom or dad on the phone, and they tell us everything is fine. But is it really?

With the holidays here, it is time to take note of minor changes you may see while visiting your loved ones. As you manage the hustle and the bustle of the holiday season, be sure to pause to take note during your holiday visits of changes that may be right in front of you.

Is your loved one moving a bit slower while navigating throughout their home or yours? Are they holding on to furniture and walls to help them balance? Do they appear more confused with more family members around? Did they eat less than they usually do? Do they look like they are not physically taking care of themselves the way they used to? Do they seem to need some assistance with their hygiene?

It may be time to take a deeper look into what’s going on.

Here Are Six Things You Should Look for When You Visit Your Aging Loved One This Holiday Season:

  1. Difficulties with Activities of Daily Living– Are you noticing changes with the basics? Are they bathing regularly? Are their clothes clean? Hair combed?
  2. Social Isolation and Depression– Does your loved one stay at home with little social activity, or spend less time with friends that they used to see on a regular basis? Do they seem down?
  3. Forgetfulness-Has your loved been forgetting to do the things they had been used to doing daily or have they been missing their appointments lately? Cognitive changes may be minimal but still concerning.
  4. Weight Loss/Looking Frail– This is a sign that their bones may not be as strong as they used to be. If they fall the situation could escalate very quickly. For instance, have your loved one hold a cup of coffee or tea. Do they have the strength to hold it or is the cup shaking?
  5. Neglected Home Environment- An unorganized, cluttered, or messy home can be a sign that they are not able to clean their own home anymore, or it might be so cluttered that it can affect their own hygiene. Also look for: unopened bills and personal mail, a full voicemail box, unmade beds or dirty bedding, or expired food.
  6. Accessibility- Do they avoid the bedroom or bathroom on the second floor, so they do not have to use the stairs? Are they sleeping in a chair or couch to avoid using the bedroom?

If you see any signs listed above while visiting this holiday, it may be time to talk to your loved one about the next steps in their life to help keep them safe at home. Do they prefer to stay at home as they become less safe at home or is Assisted Living a better option for them? Maybe it is time for an Aging Life Care Professional? Do they have their legal documents naming who will help them manage their finances when they are not able to do so on their own?

These are tough questions to ask. It is not easy to start these conversations, but they are necessary. Do not wait until a crisis arises before you get involved. You can advocate for your loved one and empower them to be a part of the path of care they choose long before the need shows itself.

Use the holiday as a time to be able to assess your loved one’s safety. Reach out to Akin Care Senior Services if you need guidance to navigate these conversations and to help you find the resources you need to help your aging loved ones.