During the holidays while spending time with family and friends, it’s a great time to scope out how our older loved ones are faring. Here are 3 observations to make this week when visiting with your older loved ones:
1. Check the refrigerator when visiting older loved ones at home. Is the food fresh? Or is it overrun with old produce, sour milk and doesn’t look like it’s been cleaned since Y2K? When only dated items are in the fridge it could be a possible sign of dementia or depression. Or it could be that Dad’s not mobile enough to go grocery shopping…which leads us to…
2. Observe movement. Does Nana look like she’s having more trouble getting around? Or does she seem like her normal spry self? If older loved ones are having difficulty moving you may want to ask if they’ve addressed this with the doctor. If older loved ones have discussed the problem with a physician and there is still discomfort, it’s probably time to get a second opinion. Keep in mind that many older loved ones in their mid-seventies or older may be resistant to this idea because they don’t want to insult the doctor.
3. Ask about the upcoming year. Talking to older loved ones about what they are most looking forward to in 2016 will give you an idea of how they are doing. Having trips, visits with friends, classes, or social or volunteer events on the calendar is a good sign. Talking only about doctor’s appointments and illnesses is not. When there is nothing to look forward to on the calendar your older loved one may be at risk for depression.
When you gauge how your older loved ones are doing this holiday season, it can help them plan to assess, treat and get ahead of physical, cognitive and mental health problems in 2016. Preparing ahead of time for possible issues older loved ones may have makes any caregiving you may have to do in the new year less daunting.