The holiday season is a special time to get together with friends and family. It’s a happy time of comfort and cheer, and everyone looks forward to the holiday visit to grandma or grandpa’s home.
If your aging loved ones live a distance away and are still living independently, use the upcoming visit to make some observations regarding their current living situation. You should know what signs or red flags to watch for to determine whether or not they are still maintaining a good quality of life.
During your visit, check the food in the refrigerator and cupboards to get a feel for their eating habits. Take note of their weight- do they seem more slender and frail than previous years? You should also pay attention to how they are getting around their home. Do they seem unsteady on their feet or are having trouble climbing the stairs? Is the home still clean and well-maintained? If dishes are piled up in the sink and laundry is heaped all over furniture, these could be warning signs that your loved one is having mobility issues.
Another thing to take note of is their mental and emotional well-being. If they seem lonely and isolated from the community, they could be suffering from depression. Also, watch for memory issues. While it’s normal for seniors to experience come forgetfulness, if you’re finding items in strange places or stacks of bills that haven’t been paid, these are signs that memory loss may be a more serious problem.
Even if your aging loved ones appears to be in good health, it still might be a wonderful time to just discuss and look at what independent living or assisted living community they might choose in the future (or hopefully the present to enhance their lives). Discuss where they would like to live should the time come that they need some assistance. Talk about choices should a life changing event occur. It is good to have these conversations with our parents and even make an appointment to go see a community or two while you are visiting. Make sure your parents know you want to help facilitate the move but the choice is theirs as to which community.
In the case where you find that maybe your aging loved ones have experienced a decline in their health, it becomes even more important to take the time and ask your parents if they have considered any communities in the area. Suggest going to take a tour of 1 or 2 places. Only do one in a day because it is overwhelming for our loved ones and is usually emotional. Give your loved ones the ability to choose which community they like the best as opposed to ‘do they prefer to stay at home’. It is always hard to leave home but very often the companionship, care, safety and well-being of our aging loved ones is better served in a community atmosphere. While you may want to keep things lighter over the holidays it really is the best time to have these conversations. With all the festivities going on, families don’t have to dwell on the topic and it is a great opportunity to broach the subject. The average family visits an assisted living community six times before making a final decision, and it’s much better to have a community in mind before a crisis situation occurs.
Lourdes Noreen McKeen is a full service retirement community dedicated to provide the best senior care for the aged.
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