It’s holiday time once again, which means it’s also the ideal time for a “holiday reality check.” If you haven’t seen your elderly loved ones in a while, now is a good time to take note of how they are doing. With busy agendas or long distances separating families for much of the year, subtle (or not-so-subtle) indications that senior care is needed can very well be undetected. Keep a lookout for the following signals that additional senior care may be required, and bear in mind that looking for warning signs is not for the purposes of judgment or critique; it’s a check for wellness, wellbeing and safety.
Physical signs: An unanticipated disheveled appearance of a loved one may be noted during a holiday visit. Failure to stay up with daily hygiene routines such as bathing, brushing teeth and other basic grooming could be indicative of health concerns such as dementia, depression, or physical impairments. Look to see if clothes are clean and if the individual appears to be maintaining good grooming habits.
Weight: At the dinner table, the senior’s appetite may seem to be just fine through the holidays, but significant weight loss without trying could be a sign that something is wrong. For older adults, weight loss might be related to many reasons, such as trouble with cooking or loss of taste or smell. In addition, weight loss is a sign of a more significant underlying concern, such as poor nutrition, dementia, depression, or even cancer.
Within the home: Any significant modifications in the way things are done around the home could give clues to health. For instance, burned pans could mean forgetting about food cooking on the stove. Ignored housework might be a sign of depression, dementia, or other issues. Make sure the lights are working, the heat is turned on, the bathrooms are clean, and no clutter is obstructing the walking areas of the senior’s home.
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If you notice signs like an unkempt home, unexplained weight loss, or other general personality changes, talk to the senior about care experts at Visiting Angels about possibilities. While it might seem better to delay difficult discussions until after the holiday season, it’s much better not to wait until a real crisis strikes. Be reasonable with your expectations, and realize that your senior loved one may resist the conversation at first. The most important thing at this time is to open the lines of communication.
Need help with initiating the home care conversation with a loved one this holiday season? Call the Fremont home care experts at Visiting Angels at 510-284-0000 today for information about home care services in the Fremont, San Jose and Sunnyvale areas.