Home for the Holidays: Signs a Loved One May Need Assistance
It’s “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” when families gather to celebrate the holiday season. It’s always special to bring your family together from far and wide to share a meal or partake in your favourite traditions. If you live far away from your older relatives, this may be the first time you’ve seen them in a long time, making the holiday season even more significant.
When you finally see your loved ones this season, especially older relatives, you might notice worrisome changes in their behaviour or lifestyle. Use the upcoming holidays as an opportunity to check in on family members and look for any signs that indicate they could benefit from assisted living.
BC Seniors Living Association (BSCLA) wants to make sure that your family has a happy holiday season, but we also want to ensure your older relatives are taken care of and receiving the assistance they need. We’re proud to provide senior living resources so you can make the best decision possible for your family.
Signs to Consider When Visiting Family
Initially, these lifestyle and behavioural changes might not be that noticeable due to the pomp and circumstances of a traditional holiday gathering, dinner, or party. For example, you might be focusing on reconnecting with family, sharing gifts, or participating in unique traditions.
On the other hand, if you do notice differences in their usual behaviour, it might be easy to dismiss them. Whether you want to keep the mood light and happy or you don’t want to embarrass or “call out” a family member around guests, you may overlook certain things in the name of the holiday spirit.
Whatever the case, take the time to look for any causes for concern, especially regarding your relative’s Activities of Daily Living (ADLs). ADLs are the fundamental and routine tasks required to take care of oneself and are essential for a person’s health and quality of life.
Here are some specifics to watch for while you’re home for the holidays, specifically related to the way they might interact with family, present themselves, or behave during holiday events:
Changes in Appearance or Physical Capabilities
One thing you might notice is your relative has a lack of appetite or has developed poor eating habits during family meals and celebrations during the holidays.
Also, watch for any signs of decline regarding their personal hygiene.
- Is their hair unkempt or unclean?
- Have they dressed appropriately for the weather or the occasion, or does it seem like they’ve made strange outfit choices?
- Are they exhibiting poor oral hygiene, or does it seem like they haven’t bathed recently?
Changes in Behaviour or Cognitive Abilities
Perhaps the easiest sign to notice, and undoubtedly the hardest, is a loss of interest in activities or spending time with loved ones during holiday gatherings. If they seem withdrawn or uninterested in participating in any games, celebrations, or traditions, note these occurrences.
Your relative might also have trouble remembering dates or events and might confuse the names of those around them.
In addition, they might become easily agitated or distracted during conversations or if they’re having trouble with memory.
Changes in Household Maintenance
You might notice an unusual amount of clutter in their home, such as stacks of unopened mail or bills and unfilled prescriptions.
In addition, signs of unsafe activity, like scratches on their car or burn marks on cookware, can indicate that tasks like driving alone or even cooking on a stove have become dangerous.
Concerned Neighbors and Friends
If your relative’s friends or neighbours drop by to say hello to the family during a holiday gathering, take the time to ask if they have noticed anything different or concerning.
If you notice any of these signs, it could indicate that your relative might benefit from assisted living. Assisted living communities offer balance for older adults who need a helping hand in their everyday routine but still want to maintain their independence. Highly trained staff ensure that residents can safely complete their ADLs or receive the care they need, so they can live healthier lives.
Raising Concerns with a Loved One
Visiting during the holidays is a wonderful time to reconnect and catch up. However, when you notice signs that a loved one may be struggling to complete fundamental tasks, it can be hard to know what to do next.
Approach the conversation in a respectful manner, preferably after other family members and guests have left. While you may want spouses or siblings there for support, you don’t want your loved one to feel embarrassed or outnumbered.
Start by asking a few simple questions so you can gauge the level of care or assistance they might require. Here are a few examples:
“While I’m here, is there anything you’d like me to help with around the house?” This will give you an opportunity to help your relative with cleaning or home maintenance that needs to be done, but it will also allow you to get a clearer picture of the household upkeep that they need extra help with.
“I noticed that you were quiet/distracted during dinner. Are you feeling alright?” If your loved one exhibited any of the changes in behaviour or cognitive abilities listed above, ask them if they’ve been feeling okay recently. This gives them a chance to open up to a trusted relative about any personal changes they’ve noticed in themselves or any other issues they might be having.
“I saw that your fridge was empty earlier. Would you like me to go grocery shopping with you?” By helping your family member stock their fridge or pantry, you’ll be able to discuss any mobility changes or recent eating habits that they’ve developed; once again, this opens up the conversation for your relative to speak freely about any recent changes they’ve experienced so that you can get a better understanding of the care they maybe need.
By keeping track of any changes, starting the conversation to understand their needs, and helping them come up with an assisted living plan, you’ll be able to dive further into a journey that assures their safety and well-being, especially if you don’t live close to one another.
Together with your relative, research any senior living resources that can give you a better understanding of the benefits that come along with assisted living. Be sure to focus on the positive aspects of any communities you look at. For instance, assisted living communities offer social events and activities, and even clubs that focus on hobbies and passions.
There’s nothing more important than spending time with loved ones during the holidays. But it’s important to keep track of any changes to ensure your loved one is safe, happy, and healthy all year round.
BCSLA wants your family to make the most of your holiday season, especially if someone you love needs support; we want your loved one to discover a new approach to senior living! For more senior living resources, we invite you to visit our website.