Office for the Aging

 
 

Make Holiday Visits with Loved Ones Count

The holidays are a natural time for families to get together, and sometimes the only occasion they'll have to physically "check in" with each other during the course of the year. This is a great opportunity to look for signals that your older loved one may need some extra help or attention. While you're visiting, here are some signs to look for:

Physical Changes
When you haven't seen your loved one recently, sometimes it's easier for you to spot physical changes such as weight loss or weight gain than someone who sees them regularly. Additionally, pay attention to reduced mobility, as indicated by difficulty walking or getting up from chairs or couches. Bumps, bruises or cuts may indicate they've had a fall. Any significant physical changes to your loved one should prompt a conversation about scheduling an appointment with a medical professional for a check-up.

Housekeeping
Maybe mom has never been June Cleaver, but check out the refrigerator—is it well stocked? Is trash accumulating in the garage? Does the stove work properly? A decline in home cleanliness as well as the ability to prepare healthy meals are warning signals. If you have concerns about your loved one's ability to maintain their independence, call your local NY Connects program at 1 800 342-9871 to get information about long-term services and supports.

Memory/Mood/Behavior
It's not unusual for dad to repeat the story about that time his senior class pranked the principal in high school. What is unusual is when he repeats questions or stories more than once every 30 minutes. Or if there are an unusually large number of QVC boxes in your normally frugal mother's recycling. Perhaps your typically placid and agreeable father-in-law is surly throughout your entire visit, or your social butterfly grandmother has withdrawn from her knitting club and other friends. These observations may warrant a discussion with their primary care physician, or the scheduling of an appointment with a specialist.

So this year, as you're spending time during the holidays with those you love, seize the opportunity to address preventable crises and ensure you're prepared to address any situations that arise as your loved one ages. After all, that's what family is for.

Many visits and precautionary check-ups are covered by Medicare. For more information about what benefits you may be eligible for, visit NYSOFA's Medicare prevention page.