Taking Stock of a Loved One's Health Over the Holidays

The holiday season is underway and many families will be together celebrating with loved ones. For many, this is the one time of year that siblings and parents are together. While this is a time for reconnecting and sharing special moments, it's also a time when issues related to aging and health come to the forefront as family members recognize a change in the wellness and safety of their loved ones.

This is evident at A Place for Mom by the 20-30% increase in calls and inquiries we receive from sons and daughters, and many daughter-in-laws, throughout the season, especially after Thanksgiving and through the end of January.

The holidays are a critical time to check in, take stock of mom or dad's situation and get organized about planning for care for an aging loved one. There are a myriad of senior care options available today that vary greatly in terms of the services and amenities offered, as well as price. Researching and understanding these options can be confusing and overwhelming, so it's helpful to first have a solid understanding of your loved one's current situation.

If you haven't seen your parents or loved ones in a while, take some time to evaluate their overall health and wellness. When you're together, consider these factors:

  • Observe their eating habits. What are they choosing to eat? What kinds of food is being purchased and by whom? If you're at their home, check their pantry and refrigerator.
  • Look for weight loss or gain. How do their clothes fit? Has their weight drastically changed one way or the other?
  • Do you notice poor wound healing, easy bruising or dental issues?
  • Ask about their health and doctor's visits. Have they said they've received any abnormal blood tests or unusual results from the doctor?
  • Identify what medication they're taking and understand potential side effects. Know that some medications can cause weight loss, decreased appetite, and sometimes an unpleasant taste in the mouth that may affect eating habits.
  • Listen to how they're communicating and the stories they tell. Has there been a change in their speech? Are they unusually repetitive? Does it seem that they are forgetting simple tasks or can't remember certain things?

Remember to be honest with yourself. If you feel that any aspect of their wellness has changed, their safety or health may be at risk and if their needs aren't quite being met, then it may be time to turn to a professional for guidance and information.

Whatever condition your parent or loved one is in, the holidays are a time for celebration as much as they are a time for realizations. We've talked about ways to begin the "tough conversation" before, and while the holiday may not feel like the ideal time to tackle all aspects of this issue at once, it may be your only opportunity this year to get started -- together.