A Holiday Wellbeing Checklist for Seniors
The holiday season is upon us, but this year will undoubtedly look much different than in years past.
COVID-19 cases are surging in many areas of the country, and doctors have recommended keeping seasonal celebrations to a minimum. And with seniors being the most vulnerable to this infectious disease, it's especially important to take all precautions to protect older adults which may include not gathering at all this year.
Since you may not be visiting their home or spending extended time with them, it's a good idea to be super diligent about checking on a senior loved one's well being this holiday season. Whether you are visiting through the window of their senior living community or catching up over video chat, here are some important changes to question and look out for as you communicate:
Emotional changes: During the holidays, seniors are at a higher risk for elderly depression. Has your loved one withdrawn from any of their favorite holiday traditions, like church services or community events? Is your loved one drinking more, or sleeping excessively?
Physical changes: Physical changes are often the easiest to spot. Has your mother’s appearance changed (e.g. weight loss, disheveled hair, stained clothing)? Does your father have trouble walking? Does your loved one show signs of forgetfulness or memory loss? If you are not seeing your loved one in person this year, be sure to check with people that may be in regular contact with them such as a friend or caregiver.
Home safety needs: Does your loved one’s home provide enough support for their changing needs? Are there grab bars in the bathroom and rails on every staircase to help prevent falls? Does your parent have a reliable way to call for help in case of a fall or other emergency? Is mom’s home clean and well maintained with properly functioning smoke detectors, fire extinguishers and carbon monoxide detectors?
Transportation needs: Is your parent still driving, and able to do so safely? Look for recent dents in their car. Do they have other ways to get to the grocery store and pharmacy when roads are icy or the driveway is blocked with snow? Are there reliable transportation services available when your loved one can no longer drive? It may be time to outsource some of these errands.
If your family is forgoing the in-person celebrations this year, make sure you are still engaging with your parents and senior loved ones in any way you can during this time. The absence of family will have an emotional impact on everyone this year, regardless of age. If you notice any of these changes, or find your parent has changing needs, it’s important to talk with them and with other family members and caregivers. There are many options for additional support, ranging from in home care and senior transportation services to senior living. Don’t put off the discussion, because the earlier you have the conversation, the more options you will have.
Flu shots are just one way seniors can prepare for flu season. Read our list of flu prevention tips to help seniors reduce the risk of catching the flu.
Here are a few tips for talking to your loved one about making a change.