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Ten holiday warning signs your senior is in trouble

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The holiday season may be one of the few times local families get together and realize their elderly loved ones are in deep trouble and need immediate help.

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Adult children who don't live nearby often come home to holiday heartbreak with deteriorating relatives they aren't prepared to handle. So this holiday, gather the family around the kitchen table for a talk that maps out a plan to care for aging relatives.

Senior Helpers, a large in-home senior care company, advises families with the "10 Holiday Warning Signs Seniors Need Help:"

• Poor eating habits resulting in weight loss, no appetite or missed meals.

• Neglected hygiene. Wearing dirty clothes, body odor, neglected nails and teeth.

• Neglected home. It's not as clean or sanitary as you remember growing up.

• Inappropriate behavior. Acting loud, quiet, paranoid or making phone calls at all hours.

• Changed relationship patterns that friends or neighbors have noticed.

• Burns or injuries resulting from weakness, forgetfulness, or misuse of alcohol or medications.

• Decreased participation in activities such as attending the senior center, book club or church.

• Scorched pots and pans showing forgetfulness for dinner cooking on the stove.

• Unopened mail, newspaper piles, missed appointments.

• Mishandled finances such as losing money, paying bills twice, or hiding money.

Senior Helpers also offers a holiday family meeting guide to help people discuss the major sticking points:

• The person leading the meeting can be the elderly relative who anticipates needing care in the future. If that person already needs care, an adult child, friend or relative can lead.

• Encourage discussion and get input from everyone. Make sure everyone makes their feelings known.

• Discuss money. Who will pay? How? If the money is coming from the elderly relative's estate, who will be the executor?

• At the end of the meeting, everyone present must commit to support the plan.

• Write it down. Good intentions are often forgotten over time and family members must have their responsibilities right in front of them.

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