Keeping an Eye on Elderly Loved ones this Holiday Season

Telltale Signs your Elderly Loved one Needs Help

Christmas break is about to begin and many people are gearing up to go home for the festivities. As unfortunate as it is, a lot of families live in different states and are only able to come together during the holidays. On the flip side, however, that’s why this time of year is so special. If you are the loved one of an elderly relative and haven’t seen them in a while, there are a few things you should remember to keep an eye on.

Weight Loss:

Can you see that your loved one has lost a significant amount of weight? This could signify a few different things. First, a loss could mean anything from depression to forgetting to feed oneself. As limited mobility becomes an issue and getting to the grocery store gets increasingly difficult, some elderly people begin skipping meals. The more meals someone skips, the more malnourished they become—leading to further health complications down the road. If your loved one lives alone and is no longer able to feed themselves, it could be time for a new living environment. It’s not an easy question to jump right into, “why’d you lose weight?” But it is worth investigating. Maybe phone a neighbor or someone else who sees your loved one regularly. Ask if they’ve noticed a change in routine or anything that seems abnormal.

Increased Frailty:

We know people from older generations never like to complain about ailments, discomfort, or physical weakness, but even if they don’t say it out loud, we can sometimes see that our loved ones are more affected by age than they once were. Specific signs include difficulty traveling up or down stairs, difficulty getting up from a chair, or the inability to get in or out of a car. If you’ve noticed your loved one is beginning to shake more than before or can’t handle dishes or kitchenware, it could mean their frailty is getting in the way of their ADLs (Activities of Daily Living). ADLs include activities like showering, dressing, cleaning, cooking, using the restroom, etc. Once people begin having trouble performing ADLS, it could be a sign that living alone is no longer a good idea.

Unclean Home/ Clutter:

If you’re going to your loved one’s house for the holidays, take notice of whether it is as clean as you remember. Are the floors dirty? Are there unwashed dishes? If you observe that the home has become less clean, it could be time to talk about their health. The ability to clean one’s own home is directly linked to independence. Perhaps there is just too much space and they are no longer capable of keeping up with a large house. Whatever the reason, a dirty house should immediately set off some red flags. Even more dangerous than simply an unclean home, is the build up of clutter. Clutter is oftentimes the culprit for elderly people falling and once someone falls, it’s a long road to recovery. Check out this quick checklist describing how to remove fall risks in the home.

Even if your loved one’s appearance and health seem fine, help them prepare their home for the winter before you leave. Thankfully, it’s been a mild season so far, but if last year was any indication, it could get a whole lot worse. No matter how healthy someone is, winter weather can take a toll, so it’s a good idea to ensure that everything in the home is working as it should. Hopefully everyone has a safe and fun holiday vacation!

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