Winter often serves as a wake-up call for adult children who realize their parent isn’t doing too well living alone. Although it can be tough facing the reality of elderly relatives more frail or forgetful than the last time you visited, it’s a great opportunity to check on how they are really doing and to make a change for the better. As you’re visiting with Mom or Dad this holiday season, use these tools to look for warning signs that they may be ready for a more supportive living option.
- Give a Hug. Do you notice weight changes, increased frailty or overall obvious changes in appearance?
- Observe Her Social Life. Are there signs of active friendships, or isolation?
- Open the Medicine Cabinet. Is Mom taking her medications as prescribed? Look for expired, discontinued and duplicate bottles.
- Check the Mail. Look for large piles of unopened mail, especially unpaid bills, letters from banks or creditors, and thank-you messages from charities.
- Inspect the Kitchen. This room is especially revealing. Look for things like expired food, multiples of the same item, a freezer full of frozen dinners, broken appliances or signs of past fire.
Another simple way to check on your senior loved ones’ well-being is to just take a walk around the house — you may be surprised by what you see. Keep an eye out for things like excessive clutter, lax housekeeping, grimy bathrooms, and signs of yard or home maintenance neglect. When talking to your parent, ask about vendors and services. Managing a variety of vendors can become uncomfortable or stressful. Look for common trouble spots like phone, cable or internet problems, plumbing or electrical issues, and setting up plowing or shoveling service for winter.
If you have realized that Mom or Dad could use a more supportive living situation, here are some helpful tools to figure out next steps: