For many of us, the Christmas period is an enjoyable time packed with celebrations and habitual family get-togethers with our nearest and dearest. Subsequently, the festive season is also a good opportunity for family members who live away to notice changes in their loved ones or the need for support at home.

As our loved ones grow older, we want to be sure they are still able to take good care of themselves and remain healthy. When a person starts to require assistance, they may not always reach out for help. However, you may notice some physical, social, mental and environmental changes in your loved one, signaling the need for extra support.

Some of these signs may include:

  • Forgetting to take medications;
  • Unpaid bills;
  • A decline in personal hygiene or appearance;
  • Skipping doctors appointments;
  • Weight loss;
  • Empty cupboards or lack of food supplies;
  • Untidy home: piled up laundry, unwashed dishes, broken appliances;
  • Dents in the car;
  • Dressed inappropriately for the weather;
  • Becoming less sociable and withdrawn;

These are just some of the warning signs that may trigger your alarm bells, however, there are many other indications that your loved one might need assistance. The Home Instead Recognise The Signs factsheet provides more information on signs your aging parent needs help. 

It is important to follow your gut instincts if you feel help is needed. If you have noticed something that has concerned you and it could be affecting your loved one’s health or well-being, starting ‘the conversation’ is the next step to addressing these issues. Many people find sharing their concerns with another close family member to be beneficial, whether that be talking through your thoughts and fears, asking their opinion on the situation, or discussing any other changes they may have noticed in your loved one. Talking through your concerns with a trusted person may help you to grasp a broader perspective of the situation and can assist with identifying and addressing the issues – whether that be a few simple adjustments around the home to make it a safer and more accessible environment for them to live in, or a more direct approach to home-help with the assistance of a CAREGiver.

Approaching the conversation with your senior loved one and raising concerns can be challenging for some people. If you would like some advice on starting the conversation, you can download our free guide The 40-70 Rule – a guide to conversation starters for families and their senior loved ones. Although every situation is different, these critical conversations are best brought up earlier rather than later so you can begin planning for a safe, happy and independent future for your loved one.