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Visiting your parents for the holidays?

Updated: Dec 3, 2021

These visits are an ideal time to gauge if your parents are managing well or if they need support.

The holidays can be a wonderful time to reconnect with your loved one, but it can also be a time of surprise and worry. Often time, these visits are the first signs families will see their loved one(s) struggling to keep up with their normal activities. And it’s usually after a visit when families make that first urgent call to a geriatric care manager.

Regularly monitoring of your loved one at home will help you to avoid being caught off-guard. It is very easy for your loved one to tell you all is fine over the phone as they will tell you everything you want to hear. However, you will not be able to accurately assess their status and abilities unless you are there. We are here to help guide you so you can notice the warning signs and obtain help before a crisis happens.

During your visits, look objectively. Be discreet about your observations and take notes to avoid putting your parents on the defensive. Confronting them might cause them to change their behavior, which could cast doubt on your initial observations. Your observations are especially important if your loved on has recently lost their spouse. Often time a decline isn’t initially detected because the other spouse had been filling in the gaps.

Here is a checklist to begin monitoring their well-being.

Do you see changes to their household cleanliness and organization?

  • Extreme clutter or hoarding?

  • Stacks of mail?

  • Unpaid bills?

  • Spoiled food?

  • Low food supply?

  • Lack of fresh food?

  • Stained furniture or carpet?

  • Outdoor areas that need attention, such as landscaping, snow removal or garbage collection?

  • Automobiles that are scratched and dented?

Do you see changes in their function and appearance?

  • Weight loss?

  • Stained clothing?

  • Poor hygiene and odor?

  • Poor grooming, unkempt hair, dirty and untrimmed nails?

  • Trouble walking, shuffling feet, unsteady gait?

Do you see changes in their cognition or mental health?

  • Missed dosages in their medications?

  • Unfilled prescriptions?

  • Falling prey to scams and giving away money?

  • Difficulty performing familiar tasks?

  • Repetitive speech patterns?

  • Poor recall?

  • Forgetting familiar names?

  • Impaired word finding?

  • Are they withdrawn from their usual activities?

  • Changes in personality?

Everyone has a desire to remain independent in their life. Retaining that independence and control is important or seniors, but for families, it’s a balance to keep them safe yet remain as independent as possible.

Hiring a geriatric care manager can help with this. Once a geriatric care manager is in place, they will help you navigate next steps and will be your eyes and ears.

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