Holidays are perfect for spending time with family and friends but they can also be a good time for children to check in with their aging parents. Many parents will not admit to having a health issue or ask for help so it is important for children to know what red flags to look for during their visit. In this article we would like to offer some tips for children on the red flags they should look for during a holiday visit with aging parents.
The first thing that children should look for is weight loss. Weight loss is a very common sign of mental or physical illness so it is very important to look for any evident weight loss. Of course it is important to keep in mind whether or not your parent was at a healthy weight before. If their doctor recommended losing some weight then weight loss is not a cause for concern as long as it is not too drastic, but if they were already normal or underweight it could signal a problem. Weight loss can signal some very serious conditions such as cancer, dementia, heart problems or depression. Depression is often a common cause of weight loss; when people become depressed they begin to lose their energy. As a result, they do not eat like they should which can be very dangerous. Children that notice weight loss in their elderly parents should talk with their parents or have them visit their doctor to find out the underlying cause. Catching an illness early on and treating it can often help cure or slow the disease progression so it is important for children to keep an eye on their elderly parents.
As previously mentioned, depression can be a very serious condition and it affects many elderly people so it is important for children to assess their parents’ emotional well-being. Depression in seniors is commonly triggered by death or illness of a loved one or friend but it can be caused by a number of other things as well. Signs of depression include lack of interest in hobbies or activities, changes in sleep patterns and even a lack of interest in home maintenance and personal hygiene. It can be hard to detect depression via email or phone so it is important for children to keep an eye out during their holiday visit. Some of the signs of depression also correspond to the signs of dementia so it is important for children to talk with their parents and have them visit their doctor. Many seniors will not admit to having a problem, especially if they have dementia so it is best for children to take their parents to the doctor.
Balance is also important for children to keep an eye on because falls can be very dangerous for seniors. Balance problems can indicate bone or joint problems which could possibly be treated if they are not ignored. Ignoring a bone or joint condition can be dangerous for seniors because it can cause them to fall and get hurt. Seniors have a lower bone density and will require more time to heal after an injury so it is best to avoid a fall if possible. Many people, seniors included, will try to ignore a problem in hopes that it goes away on its own, so children should make sure that they spot any potential problems and address them with their parents.
The most important thing for children to keep in mind is that things that might seem insignificant can signal serious conditions and should not be ignored. Children should not automatically assume that there is something wrong with their parent and spend their holiday scrutinizing every detail but it is always a good idea to keep an eye out for any red flags such as changes in weight or appearance, a messy house, lack of interest in loved ones or activities or problems walking or moving. Children that notice any of these red flags should talk with their parents and encourage them to visit their doctor. It might be a good idea to offer to accompany them to the doctor to make sure that everything is addressed, but it is important for children to make sure that they are not too controlling or forceful. Children can stress the importance of a regular checkup and encourage their parents to visit the doctor to address any concerns, but they should not jump to any conclusions and tell their parents that they suspect a serious illness until they have more information. If an issue is discovered at the doctor children can talk with their parents about the next steps and work together to find a way to manage or treat their condition. Following these tips will help children know what to look for when visiting their aging parents this holiday season.
Other related articles in our home care blog:
- Recognizing the signs when seniors shouldn’t be living alone
- Recognizing the Signs of Depression in Older Adults and Seniors
- Tips for Helping Elderly Parents Adjust To Life without Driving
- Tips on How to Help Elderly Loved Ones Fight Depression
- Caregiving and Sibling Relationships (3 parts)
- The Benefits of Routine for Seniors
- Strategies and Ways to Help a Parent that Refuses Homecare