The holidays are a wonderful time to re-connect with loved ones, enjoy family traditions, and recharge for the coming year. They also provide a unique opportunity to spend quality time with elderly relatives. At Senior Lifestyle, we understand that once the hustle and bustle of the holiday season has passed, you may have concerns about changes noticed in your senior loved one over the holidays. According to a study by the National Alliance of Caregiving and AARP, roughly 15% of the estimated 34 million family members who provide care for an elderly loved one live more than an hour from their care recipient, so holiday visits often provide the clearest view of the changing needs of senior loved ones.
Since age-related decline can progress quickly, it is vital to use the time spent in person with elderly loved ones to assess any changes seen, paying close attention to their living situation as well as physical and mental health. Since seniors can be quite adept at minimizing any worsening or new problems, time spent face-to-face is an important factor in assessing emerging or changing needs of senior loved ones.
During gatherings, be sure to look for the following signs that your loved one may be in need of additional help such as in-home caregiving or assisted living:
- Changes in balance and mobility
Changes in gait or a reluctance to walk may indicate muscle, joint or neurological problems. Decreased mobility also increases the risk of falls, so it is vitally important to seek medical advice if you see these changes. Keeping the home free of clutter may also help your loved one feel more confident in getting around.
- Home Environment
If things appear to be out of place in a normally tidy atmosphere, it may be an indication that your loved one is struggling to keep up with the responsibilities of living at home. Check the refrigerator: are items out of date or spoiled? Look at incoming mail: are unpaid bills piling up? Noticeable changes in appearance such as lack of personal grooming or wearing unwashed clothing are also signs that additional help may be needed.
- Weight Loss
Weight changes can be a sign of depression, unaddressed medical conditions or even dementia. Weight loss is often the first visible sign of a decline in condition. For many seniors, the prospect of preparing and eating a meal alone is emotionally draining, and the effort required to do so may be physically exhausting as well. If you see evidence of weight loss or a dramatic loss of appetite, it is vital to address the issue with your loved one as well as a doctor.
Did you notice changes in your senior loved one over the holidays? Be sure to share your concerns with your loved one and any caregivers involved in their activities of daily living, as well as your loved one’s doctor. At Senior Lifestyle, we understand that it can be disconcerting for seniors to admit the need for additional help, but it is imperative to address the changing needs of senior loved ones. Helping seniors maintain an enriching and healthy lifestyle is our goal, so if you have questions about a Senior Lifestyle community near you or you’d like to learn more about senior care options, we invite you to visit our website at www.seniorlifestyle.com.