Holiday dinners with your aging parents is a great way to watch for signs of changing independence. With today being Easter it’s a great time to reinforce what to watch for. Holiday dinners allow us to gather as a family and celebrate, but also a time to where you may become aware of changes taking place.
I see an influx of inquiries from family members after a holiday. They often see a change they hadn’t seen before. Catching these signs early can be the key to activating resources for your aging parents to protect their independence. You want resources activated before they reach a crisis point that will take away their independence.
5 Changes to Watch For in Your Aging Parents During Holiday Dinners
- did your parent eat well during dinner or just pick at food
- can your parent move around the house well
- was your parent able to hear and participate in the conversations
- did your parent say anything out of context or didn’t make sense
- were your parents’ clothing clean and fitting well still
Knowing these signs and what to watch for will prepare you to notice changes for your parents.
How Your Aging Parents AteIf your parent ate very quickly or maybe even asked for seconds and leftovers – they may not be eating well at home. They may have trouble getting groceries, preparing a meal or just eating small amounts of food. Are they picking at their food (and that’s not normal for them) then perhaps their health is affecting their appetite.
Movement Around the HouseWatching how your parent gets in and out of a car is a good indicator of their ability to move. Do they hold onto furniture in your house? Are they having trouble walking up or down stairs? Do they seem unsteady? In our homes we seldom get good exercise moving from room to room. An older adult can quickly lose muscle mass if they don’t have regular exercise. Seeing how they move may indicate a need for an aid like a cane or walker.
Participation in the ConversationsLack of participation in a conversation in a group setting has many indications. Perhaps they are having trouble hearing when there is background noise. Perhaps they have some memory changes that make it difficult to follow a conversation. Maybe their current hearing aids aren’t being used correctly or need new batteries. Try to have some one on one conversations to see if they can manage better than in a group setting.
Making Comments Out of ContextSpeaking out of context can be another sign of your aging parent having trouble hearing a conversation. If they are talking gibberish or repeating themselves, these might be signs of a memory issue.
Cleanliness of ClothingClean clothing is a good indication that they can manage tasks such as doing laundry. Soiled clothing or wearing the same clothes over and over is often a sign of not having the strength or ability to do laundry. It may also be a sign of memory issues if they don’t recognize the need to change their clothes.
These changes do not guarantee there is a concern. These changes are a way to start a conversation with your parents. To ensure they have the supports to continue to age-in-place or modify the supports they have.
If you have concerns about how your aging parents are managing then there is a wealth of resources in our Resource Library to help support them.