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What to Look Out For When Visiting Your Elderly Parents Over the Holidays

The holiday season is one for festivities, and for many of us, it is also a time for visiting with our parents. While visiting with your parents, you noticed that things with them are not quite the same. Perhaps you have noticed:

How do you know when your parents need help?
  • Difficulty with or inability to perform routine activities, such as dressing.
  • Physiological changes, such as gaining or losing weight or sleeping too much or too little.
  • Certain physical clues around your parents’ home, such as unopened mail or an unusually untidy environment.
  • Abnormal behaviour, such as aggression or lack of motivation.
  • New or worsening health problems.
  • Decreasing socialising or leisure activities
  • Forgetting the names of household items
  • Decreased judgment regarding finances e.g. overspending

However, it is important to note that you are looking for any obvious signs of change, says Opal Rowe of Living Assistance Services from the Richmond Hill office, and that you do not confuse the stress of the holiday preparation with signs of dementia and other self-diagnosed illness. If you have concluded that there is clearly a pattern of decline in your parents, but you are unsure what to do next, one thing is certain: it is never too early to start planning for what might come.

How to Plan for your Parents’ Care
  1. Talk with your parents about your concerns. However it is best to avoid the conversation until after the holidays unless there are safety concerns for your parents. When you are having the conversation, begin by mentioning what is worrying you, and then suggest measures, such as home care, that you can take to make things better.
  2. Discuss the idea of having a health assessment done by their primary care physician.
  3. Determine if your loved ones have some legal questions and would benefit from making an appointment with an attorney – preferably one who specializes in elder law.
  4. Have a family meeting. This is essential, especially if you have siblings.
  5. Your parents may need help with house cleaning or bill paying.
  6. Ask how they would feel about having a home care specialist visit a couple times a week.
  7. In-home care is a logical first step for those who need help for a few hours a day. You may be able to convince your parents of this by reminding them that keeping them healthy and safe would allow them to continue living in their home.
  8. Plan for health emergencies. Keep a record of your parents’ doctors, medications, etc. Know where they keep their important documents.
  9. Identify people that can be your eyes and ears when you go back home, such as neighbours, family and friends. Make sure everyone on your list has your contact information in case of an emergency.
  10. Learn about resources and services available in your loved ones’ community.

The more systems you have in place, the more your parents will be kept independent and safe in their own home, giving you some peace of mind as you return from your holiday.


Living Assistance Services – Senior Home Care


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