The Importance of Visiting Aging Loved Ones over the Holidays

visiting aging loved onesFor many, the holidays are a happy time of comfort and cheer. It’s the season for families to enjoy spending time together and celebrating traditions the generations before us have built.

However, for some seniors, the holidays can bring about sadness and loneliness.  They may get emotional, thinking about the people in their lives who have passed away or about all the changes they’ve been going through.  This is why visiting aging loved ones over the holidays is so important. You can show them you love them and support them, and celebrate what the season is truly about.

If your aging loved ones are still living independently in their homes, use your holiday visit to observe how they are living and if they are still maintaining a good quality of life. Things to watch for include:

  • Weight loss: Look in the refrigerator and cupboards to make sure they are still eating properly.  Sometimes senior have issues trying to cook for one person or experience difficulty trying to read food labels. Plus, certain medications can affect appetite. Maintaining a proper diet is vital, so if you notice a significant weight loss, talk to a doctor about your concerns.
  • Memory problems: It’s normal for senior to experience forgetfulness, but if you’re finding items in strange places or stacks of bills that haven’t been paid, these are signs that the memory loss may be a more serious problem.
  • Mental/emotional well-being: Is your loved one socially isolated and lonely?  Do they seem to be suffering from depression? Watch for signs of withdrawal from activities with the family and others, or sudden changes in mood or personality.
  • Mobility: Pay attention to how your loved one is getting around the house.  If rooms are dirty and not well-maintained, this could be a sign that your loved one is having trouble moving about and keeping up with daily household tasks.  If they seem unsteady on their feet, this could lead to a debilitating fall and possibly broken bones.

If your loved one is already residing in an assisted living facility, a visit or two over the holiday season is just as important to them as well. Even though they are in a social environment and receiving the quality care they need, visits from family help them know that you love them and you haven’t forgotten about them.

You can enhance the holiday season for your loved ones residing in an assisted living facility in many ways.  Help them decorate their living space to make it festive and inviting, using decorations saved from their home.  Assist them with writing out and sending holiday cards to help them remember all the people in their lives who care for them. Bring in some of their favorite baked goods to share with the other residents at the facility.

Most of all, just be there to listen.  Sometimes your presence alone is enough to let your aging loved ones know how much you care.

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