Traveling to See Parents for the Holidays

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By Janice Pollard

The start of autumn often finds many families starting to make plans for holiday travel, and for some, this requires a long-distance trip. This year will certainly look different in light of the pandemic with many of us debating between the complications of airplane travel and seeing older loved ones. Every family will have to make their own decision, weighing the risks of infection against the pull to reconnect with loved ones. 

For those who decide to keep traditions in place this year*, visiting Mom or Dad in person may actually provide for a much-needed checkpoint right now. Not only can you see if they have the right infrastructure in place to keep themselves at a lower risk, but you’ll have the chance to gauge their overall wellness and ability to stay independent.

If significant time has passed since the last time you were together, you may notice a decline in physical, mental, or environmental function. If the issues are “minor” enough, you’ll likely save the thought away for later, because the behaviors may not be significant enough to act on just yet. But how do you know when it’s time to take further action? 

As a child or grandchild of an aging adult, there are warning signs that can serve as indicators that it is time to seek supportive services:

  • Condition of their home: Is the dining room table covered in newspapers and unanswered mail? Is the kitchen dirty? Are there obstacles that might promote falling or injury?
  • Hygiene and medication: Is your loved one bathing, brushing their teeth and changing clothes on a daily basis? Do they seem as if they can maintain these personal tasks? Are there multiple medications scattered throughout the home? More importantly, are their medications being taken correctly? The University of Michigan just released data showing that, among older adults who take more than five medications, only 29% have ever had a comprehensive medication review.
  • Cognition: Is Mom forgetting names, where she placed her keys or what she was talking about in the middle of a sentence? Confusion and forgetfulness can be related to normal aging; however, changes that interfere with someone’s ability to function could be signs of a more significant cognitive decline.  
  • Socialization: With the pandemic confining loved ones to their home, is the lack of socialization and activity negatively impacting their health and well-being? This is a good time to do a loneliness check.

If any or all of these raise some red flags, a care solution should be discussed. The home care industry continues to evolve with caregivers who provide personal home care to clients, specialize in dementia and memory care services, and assist people with hygiene and dressing. Even when not in the midst of a pandemic, in-home care services can increase safety and help older adults reconnect with their community in a safe and positive way.

When an aging loved one can no longer live safely at home, or a parent prefers to live in a community where there are other older adults to connect with, senior advisors help families find appropriate communities based on their needs and budget — a free consultation service. 

As you prepare for holiday travel to maintain annual traditions, consider this a great time to check on your parents’ overall well-being, so you can plan for resources you may need moving forward.

Janice Pollard is Director of Marketing at Best Life Brands, a family of companies focused on senior care solutions. 

*Note: Proper precautions set forth by the CDC should be considered for any in-person visits. (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/need-extra-precautions/older-adults.html)

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