The holiday season is here, which means it’s time for an all-important “holiday reality check.” If you haven’t spent time with the older adults you love in a while, the holidays are the perfect time to get a firsthand look at how they’re doing. With busy schedules or long distances keeping families apart for much of the year, warning signs can easily be overlooked. Be on the lookout for the red flags listed below that may point to the need for additional care to keep seniors safe during the holidays, and remember – the goal is not to judge or complain; it’s an assessment of wellness, wellbeing and safety.
Outward appearance: An unkempt appearance in an older adult may become evident during a holiday visit. The inability to maintain daily hygiene, such as bathing, hair washing, and other basic grooming may indicate health issues such as dementia, depression, or physical impairments. Verify that clothes are clean and that the senior appears to be engaging in good hygiene habits.
Weight loss: During a holiday meal, the older adult’s appetite may seem to be just fine; but noticeable weight loss can be a sign that there’s a problem. For seniors, weight loss could be the result of a variety of concerns, such as difficulties with cooking or changes in smell or taste. Not only that, but weight loss can point to a more serious underlying condition, like malnourishment, dementia, depression, or even cancer.
Within the home: Any major changes to how the home is managed could provide clues to a senior’s health. For instance, burn marks on pots and pans could indicate an inattention to cooking tasks. Ignored housework could be a red flag of depression, dementia, or other problems. Make sure lights are working properly, the heat is turned on, bathrooms are clean, and that no clutter is blocking the walking paths in the home.
If you detect warning signs like these, or other overall mood or personality changes, talk to your loved one about elderly care services. Though it may seem better to put off challenging conversations such as this until after the holidays, it’s better not to wait until a true crisis occurs. Be reasonable with your expectations, and realize that the senior may balk at the discussion initially. The important thing at this time is to begin the conversation about elderly care services.
If you need help starting a conversation about home care needs with a loved one this holiday season, contact Complete Care at Home, the best provider of companion care Santa Barbara has to offer, at (805) 727-3445 for helpful tips and resources, or to arrange for a complimentary in-home consultation to learn how our Santa Barbara senior care team can help ensure safety and independence for the seniors you love. To learn more about all of the areas that we serve in California, please visit our Service Area page.