The holidays are soon upon us and that means that many of us will see relatives for the first time in many months. This is a good time to reconnect and in some cases where an elder may be involved, make sure loved ones are truly well, physically and mentally.   

Lifestyle Clues

If an individual is disheveled or their overall appearance seems to be in decline, this could be an area for concern. A deterioration in a person's appearance may indicate memory issues, a loss of interest or the ability to maintain a daily regimen in grooming, hygiene and daily dressing.

Make sure that your love one's home in is also maintained. Take a look around and ask if they have ample food, are keeping up with bills and communications. Just by taking a cursory glance around their home and by speaking with neighbors/friends who live nearby, you can ensure your loved one is doing well.

Addressing Issues / Problems To Avoid

If you do think someone may need some assistance, set a time to discuss the matter with them and other loved ones. Starting this dialogue early is important as proper support can prevent or mitigate many issues. Along with health problems, financial matters should also be considered.  

Older adult who may have lost some functional capacity may make financial or health decisions that are not in their best interest.  Vulnerable adults are particularly susceptible to financial exploitation and scams.  

To avoid physical, mental and fiscal problems, determine what types of support, if any, may be needed for your loved one. If assistance is in order, depending on the situation, you may want to seek professional input from trusted doctors, clergy or attorneys. In some cases, you may be able to provide assistance yourself through a number of local services, online opportunities and creating a helping network. 

Provide Support Thru Family & Friends

There are also many automated systems that can easily be put into place for online payment of utilities, phone and other regular charges.  In addition, many grocery stores and services like Peapod now deliver food too. Working with your loved one or by setting up a system yourself, you can help eliminate some of these issues. 

When it comes to interaction, most communities have a number of resources for seniors to stay active. There are senior oriented exercise classes, educational events and social activities held every week. Some offer transportation too!    

From a loved ones perspective, staying in touch with an occasional phone call, note, email or Skype visit can help ease the feeling of loneliness.   Work with others in your group to set up a call circle or schedule in which you are all regularly checking in on your loved ones.   When it comes to computers, don't let the technology scare you away!   Seniors are the fastest growing segment of the online/computer market.  You'd be surprised how easily they will adapt if given the opportunity. 

Additional Options

If you find that you or other members of the family cannot provide the necessary support for a loved one, you may want to look at in home care or other extended care options. There are a number of options available for elder support that are more affordable, flexible than you may imagine. With in home care, you can vary the number of hours and services based on the seniors needs.  In home care also allows the senior to stay in comfortable, familiar surroundings while getting the assistance they need to maintain a healthy quality of life. 

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