How to Check-In On Your Parents’ Health this Holiday Season
Though the holidays are a heartwarming time filled with family and friends, for adult children, it can be a time clouded by hard questions regarding their aging parent’s health. Visiting one’s parents during the holidays can raise questions about whether or not it is still safe for their elderly parents to be living independently. Some signs of aging appear insignificant while others are more worrisome, but how do you know when it is time to step in? Before heading to your parents’ for the holidays, check out these key signs to look for during your holiday visits this year and how to assist your loved ones, keeping them happy and healthy for many more holidays to come.
The State of Your Parent’s Home
It is unlikely that your parents will outright admit they are no longer capable of living independently, so you may need to tap into your investigative side and evaluate the condition of their home. Are there a few loose drawer handles? Is the lawn a little unkempt? These smaller imperfections are relatively normal signs for any adult, especially during a time as stressful as the holidays. But is their garbage overflowing? Are there piles of laundry and dirty clothes all over the floor? Is their fridge or pantry stocked with spoiled food? These are red flags that your parents may be struggling to take care of themselves.
Regardless of whether your parents were incredible athletes that ran triathlons or were relatively fit and enjoyed daily walks around the neighborhood, it is inevitable that their fitness routine is going to slow down over time. That is natural, but if their physical mobility takes a sudden, steep drop it could be cause for concern. Evaluate if your parents struggle taking the stairs, if they stay seated for hours and then struggle to stand up or if they have an unbalanced gait when walking. If so, it may be time to contact a medical professional, make modifications to their home or even start to consider accessible living situations.
Noone’s memory is perfect and it is normal to sometimes repeat yourself or misplace your keys but if your parents start forgetting the names of family members and close friends and how to use simple appliances that they once seamlessly managed, these could be more serious signs of cognitive decline like Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia. Other red flags to look for include frequent confusion, difficulty holding a conversation and inability to manage bills.
Other signs of early dementia include drastic behavioral changes. Is your once bubbly, talkative father unusually quiet and gloomy? Is your normally calm, affectionate mother acting uncharacteristically angry and impatient? If so, these are causes for concern that should be addressed.
How to Assist Your Elderly Parents
So, you have noticed some concerns about your parents’ declining health, what’s the next step? If your parents are showing major red flags that they are in imminent danger, it is time to take action with a medical evaluation and safety precautions. If your parent is displaying menial signs of decline, then save the heavy talk for after the turkey and just enjoy the holidays with them, and then, follow these steps:
Note Changes and Plan to Follow Up
Plan to check in on your parents more frequently to see how they are managing day by day in less stressful situations.
If you noticed that your parents are showing cognitive or physical changes, make modifications to their home to ensure the safety of their environment. Simple modifications like removing clutter, cords, rugs and adding stair and bath railings can significantly reduce your loved one’s fall risk. Also, add clocks and calendars with large print so that they can easily tell the time and day.
Reach Out to Others
Talk to your siblings, neighbors and friends about your concerns. They may have also noticed the same signs or could offer a different perspective on how to approach the situation. For siblings, it is a good idea to divide tasks like checking in on your parents, making home modifications,
Start the Conversation
Once the festivities wrap up and the holiday guests have left, talk to your parent about their future. For this conversation, it is key to come from an angle of collaboration. For example: “Do you want to continue living at home? It’s good for us to know so we can help you have the best quality of life.”
Even if they do not want to have this conversation at that moment, it still opens the door to future conversations. If having this conversation is difficult, consider hiring a senior care adviser to help guide the process.
Manage Doctor’s Appointments
Schedule a doctor’s appointment for your parent if they show signs of physical or cognitive decline. This will not only provide you with a medical professional’s opinion, but it is also an opportunity for you to make sure their doctor is knowledgeable about geriatrics.
Check Out Available Resources
Learn about the services available to your parent in their community like adult day programs and in-home care. Having a caregiver oversee the health, happiness and wellness will provide you with peace of mind while also benefiting your loved one’s quality of life.
With Always Best Care’s in-home care services, our caregivers work closely with seniors to create a safer environment and monitor their well-being. For older adults in need of health care services, our home health care services provide them with a team of professionally skilled nurses and licensed therapists that offer an organized, thorough and completely individualized plan catered to your loved one’s specific needs. This includes services like medication management, wound care, diabetic care and more. At Always Best Care, our goal is to provide your loved one with the highest quality of healthcare services that give you peace of mind.
Though the holidays can be bittersweet, the proper planning and resources can make a significant difference in your parent’s health and happiness.