The Holidays: The Perfect Opportunity to Check on Aging Family Members
If you live miles away from your aging mom or dad, aunt or uncle, a voice over a phone line can be a pretty inadequate measure of how that person is doing. While you’re sharing the joy of the holiday season with them, use that time to also check in on their health and safety and determine if a little extra assistance may be in order.
Survey the scene. Is your loved one’s home messy or dirty when it’s normally spotless? Are they wearing clean clothes? Has he shaved or has she done her hair? Dig a little deeper. If you find issues like an iron left on, scorched cookware or unlocked doors, you know that person’s safety is at stake.
Prescription checkup. Pay attention at pill-taking time. Make sure your mom is taking the right pills; see if your dad’s medications are properly organized. Also make sure prescriptions are up-to-date—an expired drug not only means that your family member isn’t taking their medication, but could also indicate they’re not feeling well enough to refill prescriptions or forgetting about it altogether.
Bad day or bad back? Does walking or standing appear to be painful? Are they having difficulty getting out of a chair or unsteady when they do? Check out any pain or balance issues with a doctor and make sure they are using canes or walkers, if needed, to prevent falls.
Not their old self? If your aunt forgets a recent conversation or your uncle seems confused, monitor their behavior closely. Also take note of signs of irritability, sadness or sleep difficulties and consult their doctor.
Good eating habits. Has your loved one lost weight? It may be an illness, but it could also mean they’re not eating properly. Look in the fridge and make sure they have food and it’s fresh. Also be sure they’re drinking enough water.
Do the holidays bring any different concerns for you?