A holiday homecoming can be complex for adult children, particularly those who live out of town, whose parents typically visit them. While the holiday remains a time of togetherness and love, it’s also an opportunity to observe your seniors’ physical and mental health to determine if they may require greater assistance.
“You are looking for any obvious signs of change,” says Roger Baumgart, chief executive of Home Instead Senior Care, a network of home care agencies based in Omaha, Neb.
What to look for
• A change in mobility — is your parent sitting in the same place all day? When they move do they wince in pain?
• Obvious weight change
• New dents in their car
• A stack of unpaid bills
• Leaving belongings in strange places, like putting their eyeglasses in the refrigerator
• Frequent confusion/memory loss
• Spoiled food in the fridge, or little food (especially if this is abnormal)
• Forgetting the names of household items
• Decreased judgment regarding finances, such as overspending
• Frequent changes in mood and personality
It’s best to avoid a heavy talk during the holidays, but if your relationship with your parents is fairly good, issues may come up naturally in conversation, says Barbara Silverstone, co-author of “You and Your Aging Parent.” Immediate action must be taken, of course, if there are safety concerns, such as your parent forgetting to turn off the burner on the stovetop.
After the holidays, share your concerns with siblings. They may have noticed additional problems or have a different perspective on how to approach the situation.
Next, investigate which services are available in your parent’s community, such as adult day programs, home care and cleaning services.