After many months of separation, the holiday season brings families together to celebrate and catch up. For families with older relatives, it is an opportunity to check in and make sure that all is well. Using your visit to be a thoughtful observer will help you assess an elder relative’s well being and, if necessary, take early steps to insure that small problems do not become large ones.
ElderCare Solutions, Inc., a Chicagoland area geriatric care management practice that assists families in managing the care needs of elder relatives, suggests families consider the following questions to alert them to subtle changes that may warrant professional investigation and medical intervention:
- Is household maintenance up to established standards?
- Does your relative tolerate activity as he/she used to? Does he/she get out of breath, easily fatigued?
- Is your elder relative interested in participating in the family’s traditional holiday activities, such as visits to other relatives or friends or preparing special foods.
- Does your elder have meaningful outside activity during your absence that he/she readily talks about?
- Is your elder able to identify friends with whom he/she has regular contact?
- Is your elder able to move around the house easily — climb stairs, get in and out of furniture — and use household equipment without difficulty?
- Can your elder recall significant people and events?
- Is there an adequate supply of food and household necessities in the house?
- Has your elder had a significant, unexpected weight loss over the past year?
- Is your elder keeping up with health care and finances?
- Does your elder seem somehow “different”?
“Very often, problems that surface may be easily remedied with early and simple interventions,” says Signe Gleeson, a registered nurse and co-founder of ElderCare Solutions. “With support, most of our relatives age easily and gracefully, learning to adapt to the changes that are part of normal aging. The most meaningful holiday gift you give your elder may be a caring and observant visit to insure they are healthy and happy and remain so during the New Year.”
For more information on caring for your elderly relatives, call the nurses of ElderCare Solutions at 630-416-2140.