Older woman sitting on a gray chair.  She is crossing her left hand over her chest and touching her right shoulder. Her nails are painted a light pink and she wears a silver ring on her middle finger. Behind her is a individual wearing blue. They are holding the woman's right shoulder.

As the calendar flips to December, the holiday season officially kicks off, bringing with it the joy of gathering with loved ones. 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 older family members during this time of year:

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. 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

Mobility significantly affects an older person's overall well-being and independence. Observe how they walk, any changes in their gait, or difficulties going up and down stairs. If they experience pain during movement, addressing these issues promptly is essential. Consider scheduling a doctor's appointment to explore physical therapy or pain management options.

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 Law 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.

About Tully Law Group, PC

Tully Law Group is a distinguished elder care and estate planning law firm with offices in Melville and Riverhead, NY. Our specialized team of Elder Care Coordinators, alongside our comprehensive elder care and estate planning attorneys, paralegals and other professionals, play a pivotal role in assisting seniors and their families with a broad spectrum of needs, encompassing estate planning, Medicaid planning, asset protection, and, notably, expert care coordination. With a dedicated focus on excellence and a compassionate approach, Tully Law Group has been the trusted destination for elder care and estate planning support for over two decades.

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