Getting together with family is the hallmark of the holidays. With the children on break from school and extended time off from the workplace, it’s the optimal occasion for the generations to get together and enjoy some quality time. On the other hand, it’s also the opportune time to observe the health, safety and wellbeing of our older family members.
Especially when our older loved ones live at a distance, it can be difficult to know through phone calls, emails, and even Skype precisely how they’re doing. An in-person visit is the most effective way to identify any possible difficulties through simple observations in and around the residence. The elder home care team at Compassionate Nursing Services, provider of expert at home care in St. Louis, notes the following red flags to look for when spending time with older adults during the holidays.
Changes in the Home
A home that’s typically been thoroughly clean and well maintained may have become cluttered and unsanitary. Piles of laundry, stacks of mail, dishes in the sink, and spoiled or expired (or no) food in the refrigerator and pantry can all indicate the senior’s problems with housekeeping and buying groceries. Additionally, burn marks on pots and pans could be the result of food left on the stove for too long – placing the senior at serious risk for harm. While it may be more difficult to evaluate, another typical issue is the older person’s failure to manage finances. Look for unopened letters and unpaid bills, or any talk about the utilities being turned off or bill collectors phoning.
Changes in Appearance
If the older adult appears unkempt with mismatched or unclean clothing and indications of poor hygiene behaviors, she may be struggling with difficulties getting into or out of the tub; or, it might be the result of cognitive decline. Also notice whether the senior has gained or lost weight without trying, which could be related to a health concern that demands medical attention. And, if any bruising is noticeable, it could be indicative of falling or even physical abuse. In any of these situations, a visit with the primary care physician as soon as possible is warranted.
Changes in Personality
Pay close attention to any changes observed in the senior’s state of mind and mental functioning. Does she appear to be reclusive? Irritated? Forgetful? Has she become uninterested in activities and pursuits that were previously enjoyable for her? Is she having difficulty sleeping – either too much sleep or too little? Does she seem to be going through mood swings? Is she involved in social activities?
When changes such as these are noted, it may be time to look into the assistance of a professional in-home senior elder care provider, such as Compassionate Nursing Services. Our services are customized to meet each person’s needs, whether just a little help around the home with housework, meals and running errands, personal care assistance such as help with safe showering and dressing, specialized care for those with cognitive difficulties, or even full-time, around-the-clock care.