The holidays are just around the corner and you might be heading home to celebrate the season. This is a perfect opportunity for you to quietly assess how things are going for your aging parents. It is also the ideal occasion for you and your siblings to help them out while you’re all close by. We asked FirstLight Home Care’s Nurse Gina for a list of things she would recommend you check when you’re home. Here’s what she recommended:
- Start with their home: Look around to see if they have bills piling up or mail left unopened. Is this becoming too overwhelming for them? How’s the cleanliness of their home? Is the house more un-kept than usual? If so, this might be a signal of a decrease in thinking skills, vision, or mobility.
- Check out their social life: Find out what they’re doing to stay social with friends. Are they getting out and doing things to keep active? If you find them reluctant to leave the house, this could be a sign that they are having a hard time driving, moving about, seeing, or hearing so they’d rather stay home. This could lead to loneliness and depression. Find out what’s causing them to disengage.
- Let them drive: Okay, this might be scary, but you need to do it. If your parents are still driving, you should let them drive so you can assess their driving skills. Check out their car to see if there are any dents or scratches. By allowing your parents to do some of the driving while you are at home allows you the opportunity to start the discussion about their driving habits. They may need to limit their driving or even stop driving completely.
- Check out what they’re eating: When you open the refrigerator, is it well-stocked with fresh produce and meats or are you seeing signs of a very poor diet and moldy, expired food? When you go out to eat, are they eating less? Are they showing signs of having little interest in food? Do they appear to have lost weight? These could be signs that they are becoming malnourished. A poor diet can intensify chronic diseases, lead to a weakened immune system, and increase the risk of dementia.
- Visit with their doctor: Set up an appointment to meet with their regular physician to discuss their current health condition. Check out their medications to see what they’re taking, how often, and that their pills are not expired. Are they taking more than 5 medications? Can you hold a coherent conversation with them? Do they keep repeating the same story? Confusion, dizziness, and signs of dementia can be caused by medications or taking the wrong combinations of drugs.
We know the holidays are supposed to be happy times with family and friends but if you don’t see your parents frequently and there have been concerns about their general health and wellbeing, the holidays are a perfect time to assess how they’re doing. Once you’ve made your assessment, speak to family members, and even discuss what you’re seeing with your parents. You might not know what to do next because you live too far away to check on them regularly and that is where FirstLight Home Care can help. Our local caregivers are amazing. Our offices offer customized services for your parents based on what they need. We offer Companion Care, Personal Care, Dementia Care, Respite Care, and Travel Companion services to help them live a quality and independent life in their home and to give you peace of mind.