Going Home for the Holidays? Check on Elder Loved Ones’ Well-being.
Getting together with family over the holidays is a cherished custom for millions of Americans. Sharing stories and gifts and giving thanks for life’s abundance has become part of an annual tradition for many.
For those who may see their parents only during the holidays, this may also be a time when they realize their loved ones are beginning to show signs that they are no longer living as robustly or as safely as they have in the past. Many children go home to discover a formerly healthy parent looking thin or frail, or a once immaculate home in disarray. These can be signs that a parent may need some outside help in managing their day-to-day activities.
Here are some other warning signs to look out for while you’re visiting an elderly loved one:
- Forgetfulness – An occasional lapse of memory is probably nothing to worry about, but if you see recurring instances of forgetfulness – including repeating the same thing over and over – it may be a sign of a more serious problem.
- Dangerous habits – Leaving the stove on, not locking the front door, taking expired medications or neglecting to turn off a garaged car are all red flags that something may be wrong.
- Excessive clutter around the house or unkempt personal appearance – A cessation of normal personal hygiene and household cleanliness is often a sign your loved one needs help. This includes stacks of unopened mail an unpaid bills.
- Depression or unusual mood swings – Changes in mood are common in people living with dementia are require a physician’s attention.
- Isolation – If you discover your loved one has stopped seeing friends and seems to be spending more time alone, it may be time to intervene.
- Weight loss – An unintentional decline in weight may signal the onset of disease or a side effect of medications. It can lead to a decline in the quality of life as well as increased mortality.
- Lack of food in refrigerator and cupboards – No food in the house may mean your loved has lost interest in eating or needs assistance in getting to the grocery store.
- Expired prescription medications – Take a look in your loved one’s medicine cabinet. Point out all expired medications. If there seem to be an excess of medications, ask your loved what they’re for. If they aren’t sure, talk to your loved one’s physician and/or pharmacists to make sure the combination of drugs they’re taking are safe and necessary.
Another sign that something may not be quite right is the inability to get around easily. A deterioration in a loved one’s physical being can increase the chance of falls, which can, in some cases, be catastrophic. If your loved one suffers from arthritis, back pain, headaches, or is recovering from joint surgery, a physical therapy program from CPT may be able to help. Our therapists work with patients to help them achieve maximum functionality, independence and quality of life.
Reuniting with family during the holidays provides an excellent opportunity to assess your loved one’s living situation and help them get the help they need if they’re showing any of the warning signs mentioned above.