Holiday Health Check for Your Loved One

Holiday Health Check for Your Loved One

The holiday season is a special time for families to come together, share joy, and create lasting memories. It's also a crucial period to assess the well-being of our aging parents and relatives. In the wake of COVID-19, the mental and physical decline of seniors has been exacerbated by isolation and loneliness. This holiday season, it's more important than ever to pay close attention to their health, living situation, and overall quality of life.

Here are some warning signs to watch out for, which may indicate that your loved one needs additional help at home or even a transition to assisted living:

Signs of Age-Related Decline:

Weight Loss: Unexplained weight loss can be a red flag. It might be due to various factors, including underlying health issues like cancer, dementia, or depression. Seniors may struggle to maintain a balanced diet, leading to weight loss. When you visit, take a look in their fridge. Is it well-stocked with fresh and healthy foods? Or is it empty or filled with empty-calorie options? The state of their refrigerator can reveal a lot about their dietary habits and overall well-being.

Decline in Mobility: Keep an eye on how your parent moves. A reluctance to walk, changes in gait, or noticeable pain during movement could be signs of joint, muscle, or neurological problems. The fear of falling can lead to seniors withdrawing from daily activities, both inside and outside their homes, which can further exacerbate physical decline.

Changes in Behavior: Observe changes in your loved one's mood and behavior. Sometimes, it's hard to gauge their emotional state over the phone, even if you speak to them daily. Look for signs of depression and anxiety, such as withdrawal from social activities, alterations in sleep patterns, a loss of interest in hobbies, and changes in basic home maintenance and personal hygiene. Neglecting personal hygiene can be an indicator of cognitive decline or other physical ailments, like dehydration, which is common among seniors during the winter months.

Chaotic Home Environment: Take a closer look at your parent's home environment. Excessive clutter and piles of unopened mail can be an initial sign of decline. During your visit, walk through their home to see if they are maintaining their usual standards. Are they struggling with tasks like laundry or keeping the house tidy? Are there signs of neglect in the kitchen, such as dirty or scorched pots and pans? Check their medication supply to ensure none are expired. As their loved one, you can often sense when something is amiss.

What to Do When You Notice Signs of Decline:

While you may want to keep the atmosphere light and cheerful during the holidays, addressing any concerning signs is essential. Collect the necessary information during your visit so that you can discuss your concerns and potential next steps later.

Consider reaching out to local advisors, like Assisted Living Locators, who can provide guidance on the appropriate course of action. You may want to suggest in-home care to start, such as assistance with bill payments or hiring a housekeeper. Alternatively, assisted living may be a suitable option. 

Assisted Living Locators Los Angeles owner Sarah Ordover is one of LA’s top senior living advisors. Certified in dementia care, Sarah is a trained aging specialist who holds an RCFE assisted living administrator license. Sarah and her team thoughtfully guide families through the senior living decision-making process, helping them find the best solution for their loved ones. Call Assisted Living Locators Los Angeles at 310-853-8282 for a consultation. Assisted Living Locators is free to clients.