Older Adult Safety: These Warning Signs Over the Holidays Can Indicate That Help Is Needed

Senior man smiling and holding hands with family caregiver
Older adult safety is important to maintain for a loved one to continue to live at home independently.
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It’s hard to believe it, but the holiday season is once again upon us, which means that it is also an ideal time for a “holiday reality check.” If you have not seen your aging parents in quite a while, now is a great time to examine how they are doing and to take any necessary steps to ensure their safety. With the pandemic, long distances separating families for much of the year or frenzied lifestyles, subtle (or not-so-subtle) indicators can quite easily be overlooked. Keep a lookout when it comes to the following older adult safety indications which may signal additional care is required, and be aware that looking for warning signs is not for the purpose of critique or judgment; it is a check for wellbeing, wellness, and safety.

Physical appearance: An unusually disheveled appearance of an older adult may be discovered during a holiday visit. Failing to stay up with daily hygiene routines such as brushing teeth, bathing, and other basic grooming may indicate health concerns such as dementia, depression, or physical impairments. Check to see if clothes are clean and if the individual seems to be keeping up with good grooming habits.

Losing weight: During holiday meals, the older adult’s appetite may appear to be healthy, but obvious weight loss without trying could signal that something is wrong. When it comes to older adults, losing weight might be related to many factors, such as loss in taste or smell or difficulty cooking. In addition, losing weight might be a sign of an even more serious underlying condition, such as malnutrition, depression, dementia, and even cancer.

Inside the home: Any large adjustments in the ways in which things are done around the house could give clues to the older adult’s health. For instance, burned pots could mean forgetting about food cooking on the stove. Unattended housekeeping may be an indication of depression, dementia, or other problems. Ensure the lights are functioning, the heat is turned up to a comfortable temperature, the bathrooms are clean, and no clutter is blocking the indoor or outdoor walkways of the residence.

If you notice signs like an unkempt home, unexplained weight loss, or overall personality changes, speak with your older loved one about the possibility of introducing companion care services. Although it may seem easier to put off challenging discussions until after the holidays, it’s better not to wait until a real emergency occurs. Be realistic with your expectations, and understand that an older loved one may protest the conversation initially. For now, attempt to just open the lines of communication.

If you need help starting the home care conversation with an older loved one this holiday season, reach out to the Sparks senior care experts to learn more about the professional companion care services of Lend a Hand Home Care at 775-322-8414. Our goal is to help keep older adults safe and thriving throughout Sparks and nearby areas.