A Blog For and About Today's Seniors

by Sandra K. Sprague

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Holiday Visits and Top 10 Signs a Senior Needs Help

The holidays are joyful times we can get together with other family members, enjoy the pleasure of each other's company, eat great foods and catch up with one another!
These holiday visits are also great times for a subtle well-check; take note of any signs in a senior loved one's household that they may need a little extra help around the house.
Most of us have spent the majority of our lives looking at our parents or grandparents as symbols of independence; they have always been the ones who have helped and assisted us. There does often come a time when a tipping point has been reached and suddenly that same model of independence and support needs our help.
If you are visiting your parents or grandparents this Holiday Season, take a look around to see if any of the following conditions are in evidence.

The Top Ten Signs a Senior Needs Extra Help
  • Less Active Lifestyle: More time spent at home, decreased church attendance, less-frequent trips to the park, the movies, etc.
  • Decline in Housekeeping Quality: Beds remain unmade, dirty dishes are piled in the sink, dirty laundry has piled up, etc.
  • Blackened or Charred Pots and Pans: A sign of forgetfulness and/or significant hearing loss.
  • Uncharacteristic Weight Loss: A sign of increased inability to prepare regular, nutritious meals; a sign of decreased self-care ability and interest.
  • Bruises, Abrasions or Other Signs of Falls
  • Distinct Change in the Home's Exterior Upkeep and Maintenace
  • Bills and Other Mail Piled Up and Unopened
  • Reduction in the Number of Social Engagements: Ceasing regular card game attendance, bowling league participation, gardening club activities, etc.
  • Lack of Interest in Pursuing Hobbies: Sudden cessation of golf or gardening, sewing circles, book clubs, etc.
  • Reduced Self-Care Efforts and Concerns: Personal hygiene failings such as dirty clothes, body odor, etc.

The Right Time to Discuss Help Needs

As I mentioned earlier in the post, our senior loved ones are just as apt to see themselves as the indepenent and support provider for you; they may well be unaware of the signs you see during a holiday visit and will often have a difficult time setting aside their pride to constructively discuss their need for help. Nevertheless, the best time to start such a dialog is before any of the signs you've observed result in a serious fall or other household injury or calamity that could require even more extreme corrective measures.

Approach the matter calmly and patiently; handle the matter tactfully and respectfully. These are the people who provided you with years of support and assistance; allow them to maintain the sense of dignity and self-direction they deserve. Handled properly, a mutually agreed-upon plan-of-action can be a win-win for everyone!

Alternative Measures

There are a number of things which can be done around the house to help ease a senior loved one's difficulties with daily activities. Simple additions to the household, such as bathroom grab bars, ramps, better lighting and other modifications and improvements, can go a long way toward improving the quality of life for a senior loved one or couple.

Above all, have a Happy Holiday visit! Enjoy and cherish each other's company!