The Upcoming Holidays Provide an Opportunity to Check on Older Loved Ones’ Well-being

Photo of a multi-generation family having Thanksgiving dinner outdoors on their balcony


Over the river and through the woods – for many, holidays are all about getting together with family. Beloved traditions and memories of happy times create a powerful pull to recreate those moments year after year.

For many of us, the winter holiday season may be the only time we see our parents, grandparents or other older relatives. Because of this, this provides an excellent opportunity to check in on their well-being. Many adults realize their loved ones are beginning to show signs that they are no longer living as robustly or as safely as they have in the past. Many children go home to discover a formerly healthy parent looking thin or frail, or a once immaculate home in disarray. These can be signs that a parent may need some outside help in managing their day-to-day activities.

Here are some other warning signs to look out for while you’re visiting an elderly loved one:

  • Forgetfulness – An occasional lapse of memory is probably nothing to worry about, but if you see recurring instances of forgetfulness – including repeating the same thing over and over – it may be a sign of a more serious problem.
  • An Inability to move around easily – A deterioration in a loved one’s physical being can increase the chance of falls, which can, in some cases, be catastrophic.
  • Dangerous habits – Leaving the stove on, not locking the front door, taking expired medications or neglecting to turn off a garaged car are all red flags that something may be wrong.
  • Excessive clutter around the house or unkempt personal appearance – A cessation of normal personal hygiene and household cleanliness is often a sign your loved one needs help. This includes stacks of unopened mail an unpaid bills.
  • Depression or unusual mood swings – Changes in mood are common in people living with dementia are require a physician’s attention.
  • Isolation – If you discover your loved one has stopped seeing friends and seems to be spending more time alone, it may be time to intervene.
  • Weight loss – An unintentional decline in weight may signal the onset of disease or a side effect of medications. It can lead to a decline in the quality of life as well as increased mortality.
  • Lack of food in refrigerator and cupboards – No food in the house may mean your loved has lost interest in eating or needs assistance in getting to the grocery store.
  • Expired prescription medications – Take a look in your loved one’s medicine cabinet. Point out all expired medications. If there seem to be an excess of medications, ask your loved what they’re for. If they aren’t sure, talk to your loved one’s physician and/or pharmacists to make sure the combination of drugs they’re taking are safe and necessary.

If you discover one or more of these situations, Pathways Care Solutions may be able to help.

We can do a formal assessment of your loved one’s well-being and make recommendations to people that can help. For those who live far away from their loved ones, we can be your “boots on the ground” and manage and monitor a care plan, which can include overseeing home care, accompanying loved ones to medical appointments and do regular check-ins to ensure all is well.

Categories: Caregiving, Senior Health