The holiday season can be a busy and stressful time of year for many families, but one Edmonton elder care professional who makes it his business to help seniors says the holidays are a perfect time to address any concerns you may have about aging parents.
“Family get-togethers are a perfect opportunity to see how mum and dad are doing,” said Brent Boyd with Home Instead Senior Care.
Home Instead provides support services to seniors.
“The best way to approach it is to discuss how you care about them and their safety,” Boyd explained. “Talk about the future, what may be needed and how they might be able to get help with it.”
Boyd highlights several key factors that families should look out for if they’re concerned about aging family members.
Boyd explains it’s important to regularly assess and pay close attention to a senior family member’s driving health.
“There can be a safety issues. Does the car have some new dings? How’s the garage?” he said. “Maybe go for a drive with mom or dad and let them drive just to see how things are going.”
Family members should also pay close attention to how seniors are moving and getting around inside as well as outside the home and assess whether aids like wheelchairs, walkers or driving services are required.
According to Statistics Canada, falls are the leading cause of injury in people over the age of 65 in Canada.
“If you can see things in advance, you maybe able to prevent an accident from happening,” Boyd said.
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A senior’s diet can greatly impact their health. Boyd says family members should take time to assess whether or not their loved one is eating properly and suggests meal preparation is especially difficult for seniors who’ve lost their partner.
“If you’re alone in your 70s, 80s or 90s, chances are they are not eating properly,” he said. “Nutrition is a big issue, and it’s not just about the food we eat, it’s a social activity, too. If someone’s there to cook for them, put the smells back into the house and eat with them, it’s just such a better outcome, and their nutrition, health and exercise can be enhanced.”
Personal hygiene and cleanliness
“Check cleanliness around the home,” Boyd said. “Assess how the home looks. How did the house look before? Mum used to keep the house so sharp, but now it’s deteriorating…Check the bathroom, bedroom. You’ll see things they’ll often need help or support with that they may not tell you.”
Boyd also suggested some helpful questions for family members to ask themselves: “What’s going on with Mom and Dad? Are they still doing the normal holiday traditions that they would always do, or have they stopped doing some things? Have they stopped because their memory is an issue?”
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Mental health and socializing
Socializing can be a very important part of a senior family member’s general well-being and mental health, especially during the winter months when it may be more difficult to get outdoors.
“Check out where the nearest senior centre is,” Boyd said. “It’s a great way for seniors to stay active and make friends, and if there are concerns about mental health, talk about it.”
Most importantly, Boyd suggests taking the opportunity to talk to seniors during the holidays.
“There’s no time like the present to start a conversation,” he said.
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