‘Tis The Season To Be Worried/Holiday visits reveal signs that Mom may need help

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Once-a-year holiday visits with family can bring joy...and concern. Holiday reunions can reveal physical or mental problems of aging relatives -- issues previously-unknown to much of the family. The National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers notes some red flags that may point to an aging parent or grandparent needing help.

While December can be a time of family joy, it can also be a season of concern. As the one time a year that many travel to be with their parents or grandparents, holiday reunions can bring to light previously-unknown physical or mental problems of aging relatives. It’s important to distinguish traits of getting older from signs pointing to something more serious. How can someone know if Mom or Dad needs help?

According to research from the American Automobile Association (AAA), an estimated 87.7 million people will travel during the Christmas and New Year's holidays. When they arrive, what should people consider cause for concern? Here are five warning signs – physical and emotional – from the Tucson-based National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers:

1. House – Does it look maintained, or is it in disrepair? Is dust accumulating where (at one time) she was a great housekeeper? Is trash accumulating?

2. Refrigerator/Eating Habits – Does it contain adequate food? Is there any spoiled food present? Have his eating habits changed? Has she lost weight? Has she missed meals or have a lack of appetite?

3. Interaction/Behavior – Does she constantly repeat questions? Can he carry on an extended conversation? Does he refuse any suggestion or does he just agree with everything said?

4. Forgetfulness – Are there stacks of unopened mail or newspapers, unpaid bills, unfilled prescriptions or missed appointment slips?

5. Personal hygiene – Is he shaving? Does she shower less frequently, wear dirty clothes, or have neglected teeth? Are there any injuries that you can see?

Click here for other warning signs that aging loved ones may need help.

The National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers (NAPGCM) was formed in 1985 to advance dignified care for older adults and their families. Geriatric Care Managers are professionals who have extensive training and experience working with older people, people with disabilities and families who need assistance with caregiving issues. They assist older adults who wish to remain in their homes, or can help families in the search for a suitable nursing home placement or extended care if the need occurs. The practice of geriatric care management and the role of care providers have captured a national spotlight, as generations of Baby Boomers age in the United States and abroad. For more information please visit http://www.caremanager.org.


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