The holidays are a perfect time to assess how your parent’s well being has been. During your visit there are a few things you should do.
1. Conversations. Having meaningful conversations about the future is a wonderful way to start your visit. Talk about aging and how they see the process going. It is important that you know your parents wishes and it could be helpful for you to suggest what you expect the future to bring.
2. Safety. Spend an afternoon checking the surroundings for safety. Fix any tripping hazards, broken items around the home, items that need straightening, and be sure to ask if there is anything they need help with.
3. Health. Since it may have been a while since you have seen your aging parent you may notice they have changed. Be sure to look for key elements that should be red flags:
- Weight Loss. This is the most obvious sign to spot. If you notice a lot of weight loss in your parent there could be something seriously wrong such as dementia, cancer, heart failure or depression. It could also be something as simple as a lack of energy to cook. If you are concerned you should schedule a doctor wellness visit.
- Balance. Pay attention to how your parents walk and move around. Are they reluctant to walk? Find out if it is due to pain. If they are unsteady there may be a risk of falling and hurting themselves. You will want to have that checked out as well.
- Environment. When looking around the house do you notice clutter? Unpaid bills? Piled up mail? This could be a sign that a problem exists. Take note of their prescriptions and check expiration dates. If there is anything to be concerned about you should talk to their physician.
- Emotional. Look for signs of depression including sleep patterns, personal hygiene, home care, and any changes in behavior. If you notice your parent just isn’t acting like themselves it may time to have them checked out for ailments.
Visiting during the holidays is more than just a reunion; it is a time to keep an eye on the aging process of your parent. If you have any concerns having a heart to heart with them can help alleviate any worry. And don’t forget to enjoy yourselves.