Home for the Holidays Part 1: 6 Signs Grandma Needs Help

Assisted Home Care, Eldercare at Home, Senior Home Assistance, At-Home Care

Photo courtesy of RichardBH

For many, the holidays are that one time of year to travel over the river and through the woods to visit with elderly relatives.  These holiday visits are excellent opportunities to check in to see how things are going.  Most grandmas are not going to call anyone and say, “I’m really concerned about falling in the bathtub” or “I can’t stand long enough to cook dinner anymore.”  Instead, they fear that if they confess such things, their kids will coerce them out of their homes.

When you go to visit your elderly parents at home, look for any of these six signs that something may be amiss:

1.  Home Environment: Pay attention to any lack of basic home maintenance, accumulated mail, unpaid bills, and either an absence or excess of medication. Less obvious indications for concern may include scorched cookware, which could be a sign that Grandma forgets if the stove is on.

2.  Balance: Pay close attention to the way Grandma moves or does not move. A reluctance to walk or obvious pain during movement may be a sign of joint or muscle problems or more serious afflictions. And if unsteady, she may be a fall risk, which can lead to a variety of serious health issues.

3.  Weight Loss: One of the most obvious signs of ill health, either physical or mental, is weight loss. Shopping, preparing food, and cooking may become too much effort.  In addition, some medications may make food tasteless.

4.  Poor Hygiene: Lack of bathing or showering, wearing the same clothing for days, or sleeping in the same clothes is cause for concern.  Grandma may be having some mobility issues or may need some simple accommodations in the shower.

5. Memory Issues: Missing doctor’s appointments, forgetting to take medications, odd conversations, signs of paranoia, accidentally taking too much medication, phone calls at unusual hours, new fears, and nervousness are all signs that Grandma needs help.

6. Depression: Familiarize yourself with the signs of depression, which can include withdrawal from activities, changes in sleep patterns, loss of interest in hobbies, or changes in personal hygiene.


In Part 2, we’ll look at what to do if you see any causes for concern.

Carol Hauser, M.A.

November 29, 2011


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