Use Holiday Visits to Assess Senior Well-Being

Posted: 12/13/2017 6:41 AM by Interim HealthCare

Holiday Visits Offer a Great Opportunity to Assess the Well-Being of Your Senior Loved Ones

Have you ever had the feeling, after getting off the phone with your Mom or Dad, that something just seemed off? Did you find yourself wishing you were closer and able to check on them more often, in person? You are not alone. A recent study by the National Alliance of Caregiving in collaboration with AARP estimated that 15% of Americans who provide care to older family members live an hour or more away. 
Statistics and studies show that age related decline can happen quickly. Holiday visits are a prime opportunity to see for yourself what is going on, and to decide if you need to intervene. Perhaps it is time to get them some help at home

Don’t expect your senior loved one to ask for help, it can seem like a sign of weakness. They can become skilled at hiding issues they are having, especially when the primary contact is over the phone. Whether its embarrassment or pride, seniors may not want to burden their families with the problems they are having. That is why it is vital to know what to look for when you visit for the holidays. Consider the following warning signs.


  • Emotional State – It is important to look for changes in behavior and mood with your senior loved ones. Do they show signs of depression or anxiety? These can include withdrawing from social activities or losing interest in their hobbies. Have there been any changes in their sleeping patterns? How is their personal hygiene? If you are concerned, it is time to bring them to a doctor, these can be indications of issues ranging from a simple urinary tract infection to dehydration or even early signs of dementia. 

  • Weight Loss – One of the most important things to look for is a significant loss of weight. This can happen for a wide variety of reasons including serious physical and mental disorders. Sometimes medications can change the way food tastes and they slow or stop eating because they don’t like it. No matter the cause, weight loss can cause reduced energy, which can make simple everyday tasks difficult to do. If you notice signs of weight loss, it is time to talk with your loved ones about it and take them to see the doctor.

  • Balance and Mobility – Pay attention to how your loved one is walking and moving. Did you notice a change in their gait? Are they reluctant to walk? Do thy appear to be in pain? These can be signs of joint, muscle or neurological problems. Unsteadiness can increase the risk of falling for seniors, which in turn could cause severe injury. If you think they are reluctant or just don’t get around like they used to, it may be time to consult a professional about mobility, physical therapy or pain management.

  • The Environment at Home - When you walk through your loved one’s home, look to see if the usual standards are being met. Are there bills piled on the desk or table? Look at their pots and pans, scorch marks can indicate that they forgot about food on the stove. Overflowing hampers can show that they are struggling with laundry. No one knows your loved ones like you do, if something seems off, pay attention to it.
We know that the holidays are for celebrating, but take the opportunity to ensure that your loved ones are living the quality of life that they deserve. Paying attention to the common warning signs listed above and being prepared to act on what you find can make a huge difference.

It can be difficult to start the initial conversation with a senior in your life, the holidays are a great time to do that. Try having a heart to heart conversation where you express your concerns and let them know that their well-being is a priority for you.  Suggest making an appointment with their primary doctor for a complete checkup. The results will tell you what you need to do next.

Holidays are a time for celebrating the love of family, and for paying attention to the needs of those you care about. Have a wonderful holiday season.

Need help at home? Find an Interim HealthCare location near you.