“Holidays are such a great opportunity to focus on bringing the family together.” -Lidia Bastianich


The holidays are not only a time of giving, sharing, and celebrating, they’re a time when adults have a short vacation from work and kids take a break from school. Whether you’re planning to take your family to visit your elderly loved ones or you’re entertaining them in your home for the holidays, it’s the perfect opportunity to observe them in person.

As you’re visiting aging loved ones, be sure to pay attention to their mental, physical, and cognitive health, as well as warning signs that they may need extra help. It’s not uncommon for adult children to overlook certain physical, emotional, and cognitive changes in their aging parents. It can be uncomfortable, difficult, and painful to see your parents decline. The signs are there; you just have to know what to be aware of.

Here are the top 5 things to look for when visiting your senior loved ones for the holidays:

1. Struggling to complete daily tasks

The holidays are a great opportunity to see if your aging loved ones have difficulty completing daily tasks, such as cooking, cleaning, dressing, or going to the bathroom by themselves. If your parents usually maintain a clean home, but when visiting you notice clutter, a pile of dirty dishes, and food laying around, there may be a problem. Also, be sure that they are taking prescribed medications. If you notice expired prescriptions, this could indicate they are not taking their medications as intended.


2. Decline in health and wellbeing

One of the main things you should look for is any drastic changes in your loved one’s moods or behavior. Depression, especially for the elderly, is common during the holidays, mostly as a result of major life changes. Be aware of signs of depression, including loss of interest in activities, changes in appetite, changes in sleep patterns, or significant weight loss. Weight loss can be a result of not eating, a side effect of medication, or even dementia.

3. Memory loss/confusion

Cognitive decline in the elderly is not uncommon. Is your aging parent becoming disoriented, repeating themselves, or missing too many appointments? Are they getting confused and easily agitated? Although some memory loss is natural, experiencing cognitive difficulties could indicate a very serious condition, such as Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia.

4. Changes in gait

Observe how your loved one walks, moves, or does physical activities. If they are unsteady when walking, they could be at great risk of falling. Using the stairs, walking on rugs, or walking in inclement weather can cause serious injuries. If your loved one moves slowly, winces when walking, or shows changes in gait, this could be a sign of joint or muscle pain.

5. Changes in habit/socialization

Social interaction plays a critical role in our physical, emotional, mental, and cognitive health. We may not consider companionship as essential, however, research shows it’s one of the most important elements of staying healthy and has a dramatic impact on our quality of life. If you notice that your parents no longer wish to socialize with friends, participate in their usual hobbies and activities, or interact with neighbors, this social isolation can lead to depression.

Final Thoughts

christmas-tree If, after visiting your senior loved ones, you realize that they need more care than you can provide, you may need to discuss long-term care. If you do not live close to your parents, it may require more help than you can provide from a distance. Assisted living can offer the services your loved ones need and deserve. From medication management and memory care services to fitness training and personalized meals, Avanti Senior Living provides these services and more to improve the quality of life of your loved ones.

Call Avanti today to schedule a tour or learn more about options, services, and floor plans.