773 E. Haverford Road • Bryn Mawr, PA 19010
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Home for the Holidays: What to Look for When Visiting an Aging Parent

The holidays are a special time for the love of family and the spirit of giving. So when visiting your aging parent or parents this holiday season, place a special emphasis on how they look, act and feel.

This is particularly important if a parent is living alone and you have not seen them since your last holiday visit.

Says Crystal Yost, PCHA, Personal Care Administrator at Impressions Memory Care at Bryn Mawr located in Bryn Mawr, PA, “As our parents age, the roles and responsibilities within the family are often reversed. And, the time eventually comes when adult children take responsibility for their parents’ safety and protection.  Just as they watched over us in our youth, it becomes our turn to safeguard them.

“In fact, the most important gift you can give your aging parents this holiday might be their health and well-being. And the best way to assess your parents’ physical and mental status during your holiday visit is to look for the warning signs that indicate they need care and support.”

Holiday Observance: Look for Signs that Your Aging Parents Need Help

Parental care articles, “Aging parents: 8 warning signs of health problems and “What Are the Signs That an Aging Parent Needs Help?,” offer helpful guidance on what to look for this holiday.

Examples include:

  • Changes in your parent’s appearance – Has your parent (or parents) lost weight since your last holiday visit? Do they appear disheveled? Do they exhibit poor hygiene? Do they have bruises or burn marks that could indicate problems?
     
  • Difficulty getting around – Do they have more difficulty walking and getting around than they did last holiday? How is their balance? Do they hold on to furniture to help them move around? Can they still drive safely? Do you see dents or scratches on their car?
     
  • Neglecting normal activities – Does the interior or exterior of their home look cluttered or neglected? Is unopened mail piling up? Are bills not being paid on time? Are they neglecting to take their medications and refilling them? Are they scheduling regular doctor checkups? Is there an unpleasant odor in the house?
     
  • Reduced social engagement – Do your parents still participate in their interests or hobbies? Are they as active socially? An active social life is considered vital to the health and well-being of older Americans so look for signs of lack of engagement this holiday.
     
  • Safety risks – Are there safety hazards in the home such as bunched throw rugs, cluttered hallways and slippery bathroom floors?  Are there burnt pans in the kitchen? Is there spoiled food in the refrigerator?  Look for these common home hazards this holiday.
     
  • Changes in emotional state – For an aging parent now living alone, isolation and loneliness are common problems that can have serious consequences, including severe depression, hypertension and heart disease. Therefore, be sure to check on your parent’s emotional health as well as their physical status this holiday.
     
  • Memory loss – Do your parents appear confused or forgetful? Do they seem to have difficulty completing routine tasks? Do they repeat themselves often? If you have concerns during your holiday visit, consider the signs and symptoms listed below.

Signs of Abnormal Memory Loss That Could Signal Dementia

Look for the warning signs this holiday season that your aging parent might be exhibiting signs of abnormal memory loss as opposed to normal age-related “senior moments.” There is a big difference between occasional lapses in memory and memory loss caused by progressive neurological disease.

According to “How to Determine if an Aging Parent Needs Help at Home,” your parent or parents might be developing Alzheimer's disease or some other form of dementia if they demonstrate the following symptoms:

  • Consistent memory lapses
  • Loss of reasoning skills
  • Confusion
  • Difficulty performing familiar tasks
  • Frequently misplacing things
  • Frequently getting lost while walking or driving
  • Repetitive speech
  • Inability to complete a sentence
  • Rapid mood swings or changes in behavior
  • Changes in personality
  • Wearing the same clothes every day
  • Inability to recall names of familiar people or objects
  • Loss of initiative

Crystal adds, “If you note any of these changes in your parents’ appearance, home environment or behavior this holiday, we suggest having an honest two-way conversation with them. Also, talk to their doctor and identify resources in the community such as an Office of Aging, which can provide a list of available services that could help.

“If you suspect dementia, it is important to have them examined promptly so you can determine the cause of their memory loss. An accurate diagnosis by a physician is essential to start the most appropriate form of treatment immediately and give family members time to consider financial, legal and care options.

“Remember, the most loving gift you can give your parents this holiday might be the gift of health and well-being.”

We encourage you to contact us with any questions you have on dementia care or to schedule a tour. Also, we invite you to read our timely blog articles on current caregiver and dementia care topics posted on our website

We Would Love to Hear from You!

If you have comments or questions about our blog, “Home for the Holiday: What to Look for When Visiting an Aging Parent,” we’d love to hear from you. We also encourage you to share any of your caregiving experiences in our comments section.

Engaging Days. Meaningful Moments.

Loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease or other memory impairments require specialized care and support. They also deserve a lifestyle rich in dignity and fulfillment. Impressions Memory Care at Bryn Mawr provides residents with Engaging Days and Meaningful Moments that emphasize individual abilities, encourage socialization and promote the highest level of independence possible. We offer a complete continuum of leading-edge programs, services and amenities that address the total physical, emotional and social needs of residents in a caring setting that offers individual suites with large private baths and the comfort of home. Our memory care community touches hearts and changes lives.

 Helping Families Be “Family” Again.

Memory loss caused by Alzheimer’s disease, dementia or another form of memory impairment doesn’t only affect the person who has it – it affects the entire family.

If you have a loved one with early- to mid-stage memory loss, you know how challenging it can be to provide the care that’s needed while trying to maintain balance in your life. As care needs increase, you may not be able to meet them physically or emotionally. It’s often difficult to be available to care for your loved one’s health and well-being around the clock.

If and when the time comes to seek additional help, place your trust in Impressions Memory Care at Bryn Mawr. We lift the stresses and worries of being a caregiver from your shoulders, enabling you and your family to enjoy time with your loved one again. 

For more information, please call Crystal at 484.380.5403 or contact us online. 

Disclaimer: The articles and tip sheets on this website are offered by Impressions Memory Care at Bryn Mawr and Main Line Senior Care Alliance for general informational and educational purposes and do not constitute legal or medical advice. For legal or medical advice, please contact your attorney or physician.