Holidays a time to assess seniors’ well-being


With the holiday season upon us, families spread far and wide are gathering together to enjoy long-held holiday traditions, share old memories and create new ones.

Adult children returning home for the holidays, however, may be startled to see a noticeable decline in the condition of their aging parents or other older loved ones. From a change in their physical condition to a change in their physical surroundings, these changes could be signs that aging family members may need some in-home assistance in order to stay independent and remain in their home. Here are a few tell-tale signs:

Excessive clutter – Has the condition of the home declined? Is there spoiled food in the kitchen or refrigerator, stacks of unopened mail on the table or piles of unwashed laundry laying about?

Unexplained bruises – These may be a sign that a senior has taken one or more falls.

Significant weight loss – Seniors may no longer be able to prepare nutritious meals; also, if one spouse is caring for the other, the caregiving spouse may be neglecting his or her own health.

Forgetfulness – While some forgetfulness is normal, forgetting the names of close family members or an ongoing general state of confusion may be cause for medical evaluation. Forgetting to take medications may also cause serious health problems.

Decline in personal appearance/hygiene – Do clothes have stains or missing buttons? Has a parent stopped bathing/shaving regularly?

Personality changes – Is Mom or Dad having mood swings, or do they seem less interested in once-loved hobbies and activities?

Damage to the car – Are there new scratches and dents that weren’t there the last time you visited? Or did they suddenly buy a new car?

Help at home

Fortunately, adult children who don’t live near their parents can call on home care companies to ensure that Mom and Dad remain safe at home. Services provided include:

Meal preparation



Transportation to doctor’s appointments

Errands (grocery shopping, etc.)

Medication reminders

Bathing assistance

Dressing assistance


Continence/toileting assistance


Oral care, and more

For adult children living across town or across the country, in-home caregivers can serve as the family's “eyes and ears,” ensuring that Mom and Dad are living in a safe environment. Some companies even make it easy for children to monitor their parents’ care. Some home care companies, for example, provide each client with a secure online portal where family members can log in 24/7 using their smart phones, tablets or computers to monitor their loved ones’ care and read daily updates from the caregiver.

The holidays are a joyful time. As you celebrate with family and friends, take a moment to look around and see if your aging loved ones have everything they need to stay safe and comfortable at home.