The holiday season is a time filled with joy and celebration, where we gather with our loved ones again, sometimes after a brief period of being away. Many times, we’re seeing mom and dad; grandma and grandpa; aunts and uncles that we haven’t seen in several months. And while this reunion can be filled with love and happiness, it can also be a very stressful time, as we may begin to observe a decline in our aging loved ones.
It can also be a very stressful time for our older adults as the holidays can often lead to feelings of loneliness, depression and anxiety which can change behavior. It’s important to know the difference between emotions driving different behaviors and a decline in health creating those same changes.
Here are 5 signs you can be on the lookout for this holiday season when reuniting with your aging loved ones to determine if it’s time to make a move.
We all know that as we grow older, our memories become less sharp. Do you notice your loved one becoming easily agitated, repeating themselves, forgetting vital events or names, or becoming confused? These might be indicators of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.
2) Changes in Appetite/Overall Wellbeing
The holidays are a time when many people experience sadness. They’re away from friends and family, experiencing life milestones, and the harsh winter months can exacerbate those sentiments. If you notice a substantial weight loss, an altered appetite, or significant changes in sleep patterns among your aging loved ones, they may be depressed. Additionally, do you notice that your loved ones are losing their independence? Are they choosing to wear the same outfit day-in and day-out, or saying things with little sense of what is being said? These could be signs of early dementia.
3) Changes in Gait
Are your loved one’s movements abnormal? Is he or she walking slower than usual? When walking, are they unstable and clinging to furniture or walls? If you detect these symptoms, it’s possible that your loved one is at risk of falling and sustaining serious injuries. Changes in stride could be a sign of muscular or joint discomfort without any outward indications.
4) Poor Socialization
Companionship is critical for our general health. Do you notice that your elderly loved ones prefer to stay at home alone rather than socialize with friends and relatives, or participate in activities they used to enjoy? Such social isolation might be an indication of depression.
5) Difficulty Completing Tasks
Are you noticing that your loved ones struggling to complete simple tasks? If so, it could deterioration and memory loss, symptoms of early dementia. Is their home unkempt with dirty dishes in the sink or expired foods in the refrigerator? It’s possible your loved one is having difficulty managing their home.