It’s holiday time again, which means it’s also time for the “holiday reality check.” If you haven’t seen your elderly loved ones in a while, now is a good time to take stock of how your senior loved ones are doing. With busy schedules or long distances separating families for much of the year, subtle (or not-so-subtle) indicators can easily be missed. Keep a lookout for the following signs that additional care may be needed, and keep in mind that checking for warning signs is not for the purposes of judgment or criticism; it’s a check for wellness, wellbeing and safety.
Physical appearance: An unexpected disheveled appearance of a loved one may be noticed during a holiday visit. Failure to keep up with daily hygiene routines such as bathing, tooth brushing and other basic grooming could indicate health problems such as dementia, depression, or physical impairments. Inspect to see if clothes are clean and if the individual appears to be maintaining good grooming habits.
Weight loss: At the dinner table, appetites may appear to be healthy during the holidays, but noticeable weight loss without trying could be a sign that something’s wrong. For the elderly, weight loss could be related to many factors, including difficulty cooking or loss of taste or smell. Sometimes weight loss is a sign of a more serious underlying condition, such as malnutrition, dementia, depression, or even cancer.
Appearance of the home: Any big changes in the way things are done around the house could provide clues to health. For example, scorched pots could mean forgetting about food cooking on the stove. Neglected housework could be a sign of depression, dementia, or other problems. Check to see if the lights are working, the heat is on, the bathrooms are clean, or if clutter is blocking the walkways of the home.
If you notice signs like an unkempt home, unexplained weight loss, or other general personality changes, talk to your senior loved one about his or her care options. While it may seem easier to put off tough conversations until after the holidays, it’s better not to wait until a real crisis hits. Be realistic with your expectations, and realize that your loved one may resist the conversation at first. 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? Call the Chicago home care experts at AAbiding Care at 847-698-1400 today for information about home care services in the greater Chicago area.