Spending the holidays with elderly family members can be a bittersweet experience. While you treasure the moments together, watching grandchildren and possibly great grandchildren gather around the relative or listening to your elderly loved one’s stories about years gone by, there may also be concerns.
Being together may lead you to notice important changes in the senior adult’s health, ability or behavior. It’s common for adult children and grandchildren to go through a grieving process, realizing the senior can no longer perform certain tasks that have been a part of family traditions for years. Perhaps, Grandpa Bob isn’t able to carve the turkey. Or Aunt Elizabeth can’t make her special divinity candy treat.
While these changes can be unsettling for loved ones, there are other changes to watch out for when you are together that can help you to ensure the senior adult has the right level of care going into the New Year.
Of course, it’s important to keep in mind that the plan for senior care is ultimately up to the senior adult and the closest next of kin; however, it’s good for family members to be aware of changes and have a discussion with the senior adult and other family members regarding possible changes and plans moving forward.
Most senior adults aren’t rushing to ask for additional help or in home services to support them. They long to maintain their independence for as long as possible. In fact, they may even try to pretend things are better than they are to avoid the conversation—mostly because they may be thinking of nursing homes and other situations in which they completely lose their independence.
The senior adult may not realize there are a wide variety of in home nursing and care plans to meet many different levels of needs. This can be part of the discussion. But prior to that conversation, let’s take a look at the top things to look for when spending the holidays with an elderly family member:
It may be common for senior adults to lose body fat and look more haggard as they age; however, abrupt weight loss is cause for concern. A drastic change in weight could point to lack of nutritious meals, decrease in appetite that is a result of an illness, the inability to cook meals for themselves or forgetfulness that leads to skipping meals.
As you gather together for the holidays, observe whether or not your loved one is able to feed herself and chooses a wide variety of foods. Check to see how much food he or she consumes throughout the day and take some time to inquire about eating and cooking habits during your conversations.
Is the grandma who never had a hair out of place, showing up for the holiday gathering looking disheveled and unkempt? Are the senior’s clothes dirty or does he look as if he hasn’t showered or combed his hair in days? Being unable to care for oneself to provide basic personal hygiene is a sign that additional services may be necessary. The decline in hygiene could be a result of forgetfulness, arthritis pain, or motor skill loss. Often, by simply observing the senior adult during holiday time together you can assess the situation and identify the issue.
When you are in close proximity to your loved one, you can take a closer look to see if there are signs of injury, such as burns, cuts or excessive bruising that may point to falls and accidents at home. Often, senior adults like to hide falls and other accidents that may be happening when they are home alone, so gently asking about injuries may help them to open up about the situation. Perhaps, the senior needs assistance through accessibility devices like a cane, walker or wheelchair.
Does the senior adult seem to have a good handle on his or her medication situation? Are the medications organized? Are the prescriptions current or outdated? These are questions to ask as you are with the senior for the holidays. Not taking the correct medications or not taking them as prescribed can lead to grave consequences, so it’s important to check in on the senior at this time to ensure he is still able to manage them on his own.
As you take the time to assess the situation when you spend the holidays with an elderly family member, keep in mind you can get the support and services you need at Celestial Care. Whether your loved one would benefit from a few visits a week from an in home nurse or more regular nursing care, our team of home health care experts is here to help you create the ideal customized plan.
Connect with us online now for an initial consultation or call 602.375.8880 with any questions you may have.
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What to Do After an Older Family Member Falls
Caring for Your Older Family Members from Afar