The holiday season is the perfect opportunity for families to get together, celebrate one another, and enjoy long-standing traditions. It’s also the perfect time to make observations as to whether your senior loved one is thriving or beginning to struggle.
Aging adults may struggle with the onset of health issues, the progression of chronic diseases such as congestive heart failure or COPD, or a neurological problem such as Parkinson’s. They may also struggle with mismanagement of medications or poor tolerance to a new medication, poor nutrition or hydration, falls, and advancing memory loss or dementia.
Here are signs to look for in your senior loved one during your holiday visits:
- changes in his or her personality
- slow or confused thinking
- weakness or lethargy
- weight loss
- unkempt appearance
- deteriorating household upkeep
- decline in mobility
- self-isolation from typical socializing with friends or family
- changes in routines such as failure to attend church or maintain timely bill payments
Subtle—or glaring—changes with your senior loved one are your signals to take action to help reduce avoidable tragedies. Deciding how and when to get involved may be a delicate issue, and it may be difficult to know how to begin.
The process will be easier if your loved one has already completed a Durable Power of Attorney (DPOA) for healthcare. If this person is not you, then attempt to collaborate with the person who is the DPOA. If your loved one has an estate plan or has consulted with an estate planning attorney, this document is most likely part of that plan. If your loved one has not completed a DPOA, now is the time. The forms are easily downloaded and may be notarized at a mail store for minimal cost.
My next post discusses how to talk with your senior loved one about the changes you have observed and what steps you can take to assist in safeguarding him or her. Happy holidays!