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We are officially in the time of the year for gathering with our loved ones, including extended families and elders.  While the holidays are a time for celebration, we must be mindful of the potential changes in our older loved ones’ well-being.  Paying attention to their evolving needs can help ensure a happy and healthy holiday season.  Here are five tips to consider when spending time with elders during this time of the year:

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1. Considerately Check on their Overall Health

First and foremost observe your older loved ones with care and respect.  Note any signs of difficulty with thinking skills, vision, or physical activity.  Have they experienced significant weight loss or seem frail?   Can they still groom and dress appropriately, or do they need assistance? Are there signs of increased hearing loss, or do they struggle with incontinence?  Recognizing these changes is crucial for providing the support they may need.

2. Assess the Home for Safety Upgrades

Safety is paramount for older individuals, particularly in their own homes.  Pay attention to possible trip hazards like wires and cords crossing walkways, clutter piling up, or loose carpeting and railings.  Ensure that hallways and stairs are well-lit to prevent accidents.  Check inside the refrigerator to look for long-expired or moldy food.  A quick inspection of appliances can reveal any potential dangers.  Add essential safety features, such as grab bars and non-skid mats in the shower, to make daily activities more manageable.

3. Monitor Shifts in their Balance and Mobility

Aging can bring about mobility changes for many different reasons.  It could be low energy from poor nutrition, depression due to loneliness and losses, or maybe a physical complaint like an ingrown toenail or sore leg muscle.  Balance can be affected by medications (too many or not taken properly) or inner ear issues.

4. Observe Any Cognitive Changes

Age-related memory changes are normal, but other cognitive shifts may signal a need for concern.  Watch for signs of difficulty following a conversation, confusion, or a marked change in behavior, such as becoming unusually quiet or sad during the holidays.  Are they still engaging in activities they once enjoyed, like talking to friends or maintaining basic home upkeep and personal hygiene?  These observations can provide insight into their mental health.

5. Meaningful Conversations About the Future

If you suspect your loved one needs additional support, it’s essential to act. Find a suitable time for a meaningful conversation about current circumstances and both of your concerns.  Suggest scheduling an appointment with their primary care physician for a comprehensive health assessment.  If discussions about aging, plans, estate planning, and long-term care have yet to occur, consider consulting with an experienced Elder Care Attorney.  They can guide you in ensuring your loved one receives the best care while protecting their assets.

The holiday season is a perfect opportunity to show love and support for your older family members.  By taking these steps, you can help ensure their well-being and make cherished memories together while also planning for their future needs.

Burzynski Elder Law is a distinguishes elder care and estate planning law firm in Naples.  Our specialized team includes paralegals, benefits coordinators, and an elder care coordinator in addition to our experienced elder care attorneys.  We play a pivotal role in helping our clients with a broad spectrum of needs, encompassing estate planning, Medicaid planning, asset protection, and notably, expert care coordination. With our focus on excellence and a compassionate approach, Burzynski Elder Law has been Southwest Florida’s trusted destination for elder care and estate planning support for over three decades.  Call us for an appointment at 239-434-8557.