The holiday season is upon us, which means it's time to gather the family for some holiday fun! While there’s time spent baking treats and eating delicious food, it's also an excellent opportunity to check in with your elderly loved one. This holiday season may be the first time in a while that you've seen them, so make sure to check in on their health and evaluate how they're feeling to watch for sayings they need extra help.
If you notice any of the following with your senior loved one, they may need more support during this time:
Changes in Mood and Behavior
As you're spending time with your family and catching up, observe your senior loved one's mood and behavior. If you notice changes in behavior out of the blue or fluctuations from one mood to the next, these may be areas for concern.
- Do they seem depressed or anxious?
- Are they less interested in social activities?
- Are they struggling with personal hygiene or basic everyday needs?
If any of these are true, you may want to contact their doctor for a checkup. As these signs could indicate cognitive decline and physical issues, you’ll want to catch these symptoms early.
In the meantime, make sure to give them your support and always keep them as comfortable as possible. That way, a doctor can provide the right treatment plan based on their needs.
Weight loss is very prevalent as we age, but there could be a problem if your loved one rapidly loses weight. If that's the case, it could be dementia, depression, or even cancer. That said, be sure to talk with your loved ones about their weight and have them visit their doctor if needed. It's also essential to check for other signs, like low energy or fatigue, accompanying weight loss. Your loved one may also have a drop in appetite. If any of the above is true, they should visit a doctor to address these critical issues.
Cleanliness of the Home
Another area of concern relates to the general cleanliness of their home.
- Is it dirtier than usual?
- Are there signs of bugs or pests?
- Is there mildew or mold growing?
These are all signs of a home that needs more upkeep, which could also indicate your loved one needs help. If you notice any of these signs, speak with them about how they're feeling. Make sure you offer your support and be there for their needs. It may be difficult for you and your loved one but always show your love and comfort. This is a time when they need it most.
Trouble Managing Finances
Problems with finances are one of the leading signs an elderly parent needs help. If your loved one misses payments, misplaces money, or loses track of their finances, this could be a severe problem to address. Not only can this significantly impact the financial well-being of your loved ones, but it can also make them more susceptible to fraud and theft.
During your holiday gatherings, try to speak with your loved ones about where their finances currently stand. If they're unsure, you may be able to call their bank or financial institution to check. If they're having trouble managing their finances, this could be a sign of cognitive decline, which should be treated by a professional.
Problems With Balance and Mobility
While you're enjoying the holidays with your family, pay attention to the balance and mobility of your senior loved one. Watch how your loved one walks and ask them if they feel any discomfort. While aches and pains are every day, they can become a significant problem over time. As we age, it's completely normal to see a decline in these areas, but if the problem is getting significantly worse, it may be time to seek help.
Unfortunately, issues with balance and mobility could lead to a life-threatening fall. Millions of people visit the ER every single year due to fall-related injuries, and you want to ensure your loved one's safety. If you notice any changes in their coordination or movement, schedule an appointment with their doctor.
Over time, mobility issues can lead to depression and less interest in social events if your loved one is uncomfortable using a mobility aid (such as a cane or walker) or is afraid of falling. Be sure to seek treatment to keep your loved ones healthy and feeling their best.
While getting older can involve these common physical and mental problems, it's essential to stay alert and do what's suitable for your loved one's health. This can be a scary and sad time for your whole family, but it's also a time where your loved one needs you the most. That said, always be there with your love and a helping hand.