It’s that time of year again for many to head home for the holidays! When you have aging parents heading home can be both a joyous occasion and a time to pay attention to changes that have occurred during their senior years.

Make sure to pay attention if you notice odd behavior when checking in on an aging parent, friend or relative. It can mean they were legitimately upset, sick or tired. But it can also be a warning sign that it’s time to start looking at alternative support options.

The holidays can be an energy booster as well as an added stressor. Evaluating a senior parent’s ability to live on their own is complicated and needs to be handled delicately for all involved. This decision is not easy.

Here are some things to look out for when you head home for the holidays.

Consistently Slow Recovery

The last time your loved one was ill, did they recover fairly quickly, or did it take several visits to the doctor or hospital? Does it seem like they are constantly fighting colds, the flu, or infections? Has there been an extra-long stay in the hospital after a fall?

A slow recovery is one of the first indications that someone may need ongoing care.

Home Neglect

If you are checking in on a loved one regularly, be sure to check around the home and garden for evidence of rotting food, unkempt gardens, unusual smells, extra clutter, and a general sense of untidiness. These are usually telltale signs that a person is losing their mental or physical capacity to do their regular daily tasks.

Weight Loss or Gain

Unusual weight loss or gain is typically a sign that there is something deeper going on. Your loved one may be missing meals because they are unable to cook for himself or herself, or forgetting to eat all together.
Conversely, if they are normally very active and are becoming more limited due to mobility issues, this may lead to changes in energy levels and resulting physical fluctuations. It may also be connected to a lack of social or cognitive activity, lack of interest, and depression.

Physical & Behavioral Change

It is especially important to be extra observant when you are visiting your loved one.
Keep an eye out for unusual physical changes such as:

Unusually low energy
Unable to lift, stand, or sit easily
Lack of coordination
Mood swings
Financial Problems

If you are a primary caregiver, you may want to consider applying to be the power of attorney for your loved one, in order to ensure that their financials are in order. Once you do this, you can better manage their financial situation.

Some signs that they need financial support include:

Unpaid bills
Overdrawn accounts
Unusually high charitable donations (that they can’t afford)
Final notices
Letters from insurance companies
Messages from collectors
Caregiver Burnout
As a society, we’re not set up to take on the entire burden of caretaking into old age–but fortunately, there are professionals to take this on. While elder care is important, it’s also important to consider your own health and emotional stress levels.

If you think it might be time to consider a change in care for a loved one, have a look at our homes.