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Senior couple hugging at home at Christmas time


No matter how busy everyone is, the holiday season always brings families together. It is a perfect time to catch up and spend quality time with your loved ones. It also provides a great opportunity for the family to assess their aging parents health condition and care needs.


During this most wonderful time of the year, try to be very observant while spreading holiday cheer. Look for signs that will tell you that your aging loved ones might need assisted living or help with their activities of daily living like eating, bathing, toileting, grooming or minor house chores


Here are some warning signs to look out for:

Physical Appearance
Household Chores
Driving Abilities


1. Physical Appearance

Are you noticing any significant weight change? Noticeable weight loss or weight gain might be a sign of depression, dementia or other health issues. Your aging parent might be skipping meals due to memory issues related to dementia, which could be the possible reason for losing weight. Weight gain, on the other hand may also be related to diabetes or other medical issues.

Do you also notice any changes in physical appearance? Is your mom still putting on make up? How about the hairdo, is it still the same? If you see any of these changes in appearance, you might want to talk to your parent’s physician for an assessment.


2. Smell

When you give hugs and kisses to your aging loved one during this holiday season, do you smell a strange odor or bad breath? Keep in mind that health issues might cause personal grooming changes like forgetting to brush their teeth, take a bath or change their clothes.


3. Household Chores

When visiting your elderly loved one’s home, did you notice piles of clutters or untidy floors and messy rooms?

  • Is the kitchen full of dirty dishes?
  • Is the trash can full?
  • Inspect the fridge. Is it full of spoiled food?
  • Are there lots of expired foods in the pantry?
  • Are the medicines expired?
  • Are there any spills on the floors?

If you answered yes to the above questions, it means that your aging loved one might need some help. Maybe it’s time to get a caregiver that will provide  help for your parents  or maybe it’s time to start the assisted living search.


4. Driving Abilities

When you visit your parents this holiday season, why don’t you take him or her for a test drive so you can assess their driving skills. This will tell you whether or not they should still continue driving.

Don’t forget to also inspect the car for any signs of careless driving like dents, scratches and other damages.


5. Finances

During your visit, you might want to check the mailbox. Do you notice piles of unopened mail?

  • Are there lots of unopened bills? If there are utility bills that have not been paid, it means that your aging loved one is starting to have difficulties in managing his or her finances.
  • Do you see any letters from banks or creditors regarding overdue payments or non-sufficient funds notices and several bank charges?
  • How about letters from people or non-profit organizations saying “Thank you for the generous donation”?


If the above scenarios apply to your aging parent, then most likely he or she needs help with daily money management. You can either hire a trusted caregiver to assist your loved one with personal finances. You can also contact assisted living facilities that can help care for your elderly loved one and provide daily money management services as well.



The holidays are a time for families to enjoy being with their loved ones. It is also a time when things slow down, so it is a great opportunity to create a care plan for your aging loved one. Remember, time is always your ally. Planning ahead is always important so you do not have to make any rushed decisions later on.

Happy Holidays.


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