With the holiday season upon us, it’s the perfect time to take stock of the seniors you love, to get a firsthand look while spending time together, and to assess their overall wellbeing. With busy schedules and/or long distances keeping so many families apart during the rest of the year, red flags can easily be overlooked. Keep a lookout for the warning signs listed below that may indicate additional care is needed to keep seniors safe, and keep in mind that the goal is not to judge the senior, but to ensure his or her safety and wellness.
Outward appearance: An unkempt appearance in a senior you love may be evident during holiday visits. An inability to maintain proper hygiene, such as showering, brushing teeth, and other basic grooming tasks may indicate health issues including dementia, depression, or physical impairments. Ensure that the senior’s clothes are clean and that he/she appears to be maintaining good hygiene habits.
Lost weight: During a holiday meal, the senior may seem to be eating normally; yet a noticeable loss of weight can indicate a problem. For older adults, weight loss could be the result of a number of issues, such as problems with cooking or changes in the senior’s sense of smell or taste. Also, weight loss can be the result of a more serious condition, like malnourishment, dementia, depression, and perhaps even cancer.
In the home: Any major changes to the senior’s home management could offer clues to his or her health as well. For example, burn marks on the stove or on cookware could indicate an inattention to cooking tasks. An unclean home environment could be a red flag of depression, dementia, or other concerns. Take note of whether lights are working properly, the heat is turned on, bathrooms are clean, and that no clutter is blocking the walkways in the home.
If you are picking up on warning signs like these, or any other mood or personality changes, it’s time to talk to the senior about care options. While it may seem better to put off conversations such as this until after the holiday celebrations are over, it's better not to wait until a true crisis occurs. Be reasonable in your expectations, and understand that the senior may not be receptive to the discussion initially. The important thing is to begin the conversation.
If you need assistance with starting a conversation about senior home care needs with someone you love this holiday season, contact Effraim Home Care online or call (215) 826-7422 for additional tips and resources, or to learn more about our top-rated home care in Philadelphia and to schedule a complimentary in-home evaluation.