Check in on Elderly Loved Ones During Holidays
With the Holiday season now underway and many families getting together, you might consider this as a unique opportunity to check on your elderly loved ones wellbeing. While we’d all prefer to use these meetings to devote this valuable social time to connecting and catching up with relatives, you might consider using a small portion of your time to watch for any noticeable changes in behavior and if possible, the living conditions of aging family members as well. It is important to be alert to lifestyle changes because these may reveal health needs and care challenges that may require your intervention.
Here are a few examples of detectable behavioral markers you can look for:
One Partner Covering for Another
You might consider if one spouse is continually completing the other’s sentences, correcting their version of events, or hovering around them to help with basic tasks. This type of behavior may be an effort to mask a partner’s declining mental or physical capabilities. If you believe this to be true, you can subtly ask how long it’s been since they last visited their doctor. You can also recommend that they get to a doctor if they’re having a difficult time hearing, memory problems, or appear to be potentially anxious or depressed.
Noticeable Differences in Appearance
Noticeable changes in weight (gain or loss), inadequate hygiene, or disheveled appearance can indicate that there may be some physical or mental issues going on. These might include medical conditions or emotional difficulties such as depression. Weight loss could be the result of problems performing the physical tasks of cooking and eating, such as handling kitchen tools or even shopping. It can also be the result of diminished cognitive abilities that might cause them to not remember how to prepare or eat their meals. This can also result from forgetting to take necessary medications properly. If any of the above sounds a bit too familiar, this may be the time to talk to your elderly family member about their living situation.
Elderly Loved Ones Having Difficulty Getting Around
Keep an eye on your aging loved one’s ability to move around. Do they appear to be moving less quickly than last year’s family gathering? Is anyone experiencing pain as they move? If you do pick up on any of these changes, check to see if your family members have discussed these warning signs with their doctor. We always recommend trying to ascertain if your aging loved ones are still competent of navigating and driving to appointments and taking care of other responsibilities. Talk about different transportation options to replace their driving if necessary.
Major Changes in Living Conditions
Are your family members carrying out day to day tasks to keep up on the maintenance of their home? Check inside the fridge and make sure old food is not piling up and look to see if the garbage has been taken out. It’s also a good idea to simply ask your aging family member if there is anything you can do to help make their life easier for them to live in their home. Discuss the option of in-home care to help carry out some of these tasks.
Discussing finances is a touchy subject for anyone. However, there may be a few signs that will help you determine how well your loved one is overseeing their finances. Do you see any old, unopened bills lying round? Is the mail unsorted and piled up? Are there any collection warnings? Unpaid bills and collection notices are often early signs of memory difficulties. Also, be on the alert for any strange purchases, new house repairs, “You’re a winner!” lottery advertisements, or mail from foreign countries. As indicated in many elder law blogs and articles, senior citizens are often a prime target for scams and other forms of mail fraud.
Family get-togethers for holiday celebrations are one of the best opportunities many folks have to ensure that aging parents and relatives are properly handling their responsibilities. If your observations cause you concern, discussing these issues during the holidays may not be the appropriate time.
Rather, most folks would be better served by following up on your observations after the festivities have come to an end. Consider having a discussion or comparing notes with other family members before starting a discussion with the aging parent or relative. If you have concerns about an aging family member’s well-being and feel it may require intervention, contact Moulton Law Offices for advice on addressing their needs at 509-328-2150.