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What A Holiday Visit Can Reveal About Your Aging Parents Health


If you’re a long distance caregiver, you may be planning a visit to check in on your aging loved ones. This visit is, perhaps, the first opportunity in several months that you’ll have to personally observe them.

If you’ve relied on regular telephone conversations and assessments by other closer-living relatives to gauge their well being, the upcoming holiday visit may be revealing. Absence – even for a short period – often allows us to observe a situation through new eyes. I know, I’ve been there myself.

I lived 200 miles from my mother who lived alone after my father passed away. Shortly thereafter, mom started showing signs of a decline.

I kept a close eye on the following areas during each visit:

Physical Changes

Was she losing or gaining weight? Was she sleeping too much? Was she sleeping too little? How was her balance? Was she walking with any discomfort, or was she unsteady on her feet? (Note: certain medications can cause joint or muscle issues.) When there were concerns, I made sure they were addressed with her primary care doctor. If I noticed any sudden odd behavior, I quickly checked with her doctor to see if it was a urinary tract infection (UTI); very prevalent in elders and easily resolved with antibiotics.

Emotional Well-Being

I took notice of whether she was still engaged in her normal routines, such as grocery shopping, preparing meals, basic housekeeping, reading the newspaper and personal hygiene. Was she still socially engaged with friends and family? Still going to church on Saturday? Still seeing the hairdresser on Friday? Once there were obvious signs of decline in these daily activities, I knew it was time to seek assistance.


Like many elders, my mother did not like medications. This was very obvious as she had expired and unused prescription bottles strewn throughout the house. When on a doctor’s visit I obtained an updated medications list and posted a copy on her fridge and in her wallet. This was difficult to oversee from a distance.

Home Environment

I took a look to see if and when the bills were getting paid.Once I started finding bills unopened, or tucked between sofa cushions, I knew it was time to step in and help.Since I was already on my mother’s checking account and also had Power of Attorney (POA), I had the bills mailed directly to me, ensuring they were all in one place and paid on time.I also paid close attention to the stove being shut off. When mom kept leaving it on, it was time to disconnect it.

Steps to take:

If you see a pattern of decline in your loved one, but you’re not sure where to start, I suggest beginning the initial conversation by mentioning what concerns you have, as well as the measures you can take to make things better.

We want to be your resource at The Arbors. Whether you are looking into assisted living,social model day program or home care we will help find an option for your loved one. Please call us and we can find what works best for you and your loved one.