“Home” for the Holidays? Signs Your Older Loved Ones May Need Help

By Aging Wisdom |

This year the holidays and holiday gatherings will look a bit different for most of us, given the pandemic. Experts advise us to stay home and celebrate only with those in our household.

In our experience as Aging Life Care Professionals, the holidays are typically when families have an opportunity to spend more time together and may notice changes in an older loved one that are worrisome. This year, since many of us will gather virtually, you may still notice changes, though you may want to dismiss them. If you see uncharacteristic behavior, and lifestyle changes and routines, please don’t ignore them.

Common signs that could signal a cause for concern and action may include calls and observations from neighbors and friends, changes in home maintenance, safety considerations, concerns about driving, changes in personal hygiene, and more.

Click on the Cause for Concern checklist  image at right for clues or changes that warrant attention. (Click HERE for a full-sized, downloadable version of the checklist.)

The more items you answered YES to in the Cause for Concern checklist, the higher the likelihood your older loved one needs support. Even if you responded YES to just one question, you will benefit from being proactive and planning ahead.

What next? Be proactive!
Whether you live close by or at a distance, there are steps you can take to ensure your loved one’s health and well-being:

  • Talk with older loved ones. Start with a conversation and talk about your concerns. Consider including other people who care about your loved ones in the conversation, such as family, close friends, or clergy who may be able to come alongside your loved one as they make these changes.
  • Regular checkups. If you’re worried about weight loss, depressed mood, memory loss, or other signs and symptoms, such as those described above, encourage your loved one to schedule a doctor’s visit. This can help identify and address any possible causes of changes. Ask about follow-up visits as well. Offer to go with them and take notes. Remind them how nice it is to have an advocate.
  • Take care of safety issues. We can’t cover our loved ones in bubble wrap to protect them, but we can review any potential safety concerns with them. Start by prioritizing what needs to be addressed first. Then suggest small, manageable changes so they don’t become overwhelmed. Include your loved one in the discussion and decisions. Go at a pace they can accept.
  • Seek help from local agencies. In Seattle-King County, Community Living Connections (toll-free 844-348-KING) is your front door to free information about local programs and services that can help meet your loved one’s needs. In Snohomish County, contact Homage (toll-free 800-422-2024) for service and support options.
  • Engage an Aging Life Care™ expert. We are also known as care managers.  We are health and human services specialists who act as guides and advocates for families who are caring for older relatives or disabled adults. We help families navigate the landscape of the aging journey.

It’s not always easy or comfortable talking with parents or other older loved ones about concerns. Sometimes they won’t admit they need help, and other times they don’t realize they need support. Assure your loved ones that their health and well-being are a priority for you and that you are in this together. Fortunately, there are many options and resources for supporting them and you.

You are not in this alone! Aging Wisdom is here to help. Give us a call: 206-456-5155 or email us at Inquiries@agingwisdom.com today.