Ready or not, the holiday season is here! As you prepare for family gatherings, there is something more to consider besides what dishes to prepare, which gifts to buy, and how far off your diet you’re willing to stray. During holiday celebrations, it’s common to notice changes in older loved ones you have not seen in person for some time. It’s important to be aware of the warning signs to look for that may indicate the need to consider home care when monitoring older loved ones for safety during holiday visits.
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:
Lost weight. The individual might appear 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 wrong. 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.
Decline in personal hygiene. Take note if the individual 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.
Mobility changes. Does the person appear 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 out of four older adults, and can result in serious injury.
Missed medications. If the individual uses a pill box, check to be sure medications have been taken up to the current time. You might also want to 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 home is maintained can provide a clue to the individual’s wellness. For example, burn marks on pans could mean the individual is forgetting about food cooking on the stove. A decline in housekeeping may suggest 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 is no clutter blocking pathways, either indoors or out.
I Am Observing Some Warning Signs in Someone I Love. Now What?
In the event that you detect these or other concerning signs when monitoring older loved ones for safety concerns, the first step is to schedule a consultation with the individual’s health care provider. You may be inclined to wait until after the holidays so as not to disturb 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 Anthem Home 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 remain in control of their lives and daily decisions, while our trained, experienced caregivers provide the ideal level of support through services such as:
- Preparing healthy meals
- Assisting with light housekeeping and laundry
- Offering companionship to alleviate loneliness, isolation, and boredom
- Providing accompaniment and transportation to medical appointments and outings
- Helping with transfers and walking
- And so much more