As parents and other relatives age, they may not realize when they are no longer able to take care of themselves without help. Heading home for the holidays is a great chance to evaluate how your relatives are managing their living situation.

Here are some questions to ask yourself.

How do they look?

  • Are they unusually messy or unkempt in appearance? They may be struggling to clean and dress themselves.
  • Have they gained or lost a significant amount of weight? This can be a sign of illness.

How is their physical health?

  • Are they relatively agile? Are they able to get up out of a chair and move easily and steadily? Can they climb stairs?
  • Do they seem to be in pain?
  • Do they have uncorrected vision or hearing problems?

How is their mental health?

  • Are they unable to function outside of the comfort and familiarity of their own home?
  • Are they forgetful? Forgetting to wear a seat belt, for example, could have safety implications and/or be a sign of dementia.
  • Do they seem depressed? Are they still actively engaged in hobbies, or have they lost interest in the things that used to make them happy?
  • Would they be able to get help in an emergency?
  • Would they recognize a scam? Be sure they are alert enough to avoid being defrauded.
  • Do they leave the house and see friends regularly? Loneliness can have negative health consequences.

Are there warning signs around the house?

  • Are there stacks of unopened mail? Unpaid bills could mean they are struggling to manage their finances.
  • Is there a lot of expired food?
  • Are appliances in working order?
  • Is there more clutter than usual, or spills that haven’t been cleaned up?
  • Are pets well cared for?

Are there ways to make their home safer?

  • Check smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors to be sure they are working.
  • Be sure throw rugs have a non-slip pad underneath or are securely attached to the floor.
  • Consider installing railings in the bathroom and on staircases to prevent falls.

If you are concerned about the health of your aging parents or other relatives, and you find yourself asking, “What now?,” call Better Health Advisors. We offer custom plans to help seniors manage their health and provide support to family members every step of the way.