The holidays are a wonderful time for families to gather together. This holiday season may be different due to COVID-19 restrictions in place.

Children who live in a different city or state than their mom and dad may not be able to travel home this year and spend time with their parents. This year children may need to rely on neighbors, friends and other relatives to observe changes in their parents, mood, behavior or wellness of concern, and report back to the children.

Following are some signs that may indicate Mom or Dad may be ready for some assistance:

• inadequate meals, poor nutrition or spoiled foods in fridge.

• weight loss, or decrease in their physical fitness.

• abnormally untidy house and clutter all about.

• poor hygiene, soiled clothing and unkempt appearance.

• unopened mail and past due bills.

• forgetting to take medications, taking wrong doses of medicine and expired medications.

• confusion and more forgetfulness, such as missing medical appointments.

• lack of interest in activities, hobbies or things that were formerly enjoyed

• changes in mood

• frequent falls

• unsafe driving

If the points above are raising questions or concerns, they may signal that changes are needed, such as implementing additional help in the home or considering moving to a senior living community.

There are a variety of living choices available to seniors. Assistance at home, through an in- home care service can help seniors stay as independent as possible in the familiar if their own surroundings.

“Continuum of Care” offerings that are offered on one campus provide a range of services that encourage independence longer and can adapt to meet seniors’ changing needs, beginning with independent living and assisted living and transitioning to basic care, and later to short term care and rehabilitation or long term skilled nursing care as needed.

Aging parents, family members and a personal physician can work together as a team to determine normal aging versus a concerning decline or illness, and implement assistance as needed.

Services to help with daily personal hygiene regimen, meal service, medication assistance, health and wellness, socialization and transportation to appointments can make the difference in Mom and Dad returning to a safe lifestyle while reducing the worries of family members.

Talking with aging parents about the options available and the type of living arrangement that might be the best for them now and for them later in life would make for a good New Year’s resolution.

Too often families wait to have such discussions until after a parent has had an unexpected medical or health issue, such as falls or accidents, and are no longer able to take care of themselves. The urgency at this time can cause increased stress when significant decisions have to be made quickly.

Moving a parent from their home to a senior community, is an important decision. Individual preferences can vary, so taking time to do research, asking questions and understanding all of the options available can make the process easier. We at Benedictine Living Community are willing and able to help you determine the best choice for you, your parents and your family.

Happy Holiday season to you and your loved ones.

Pam Meyer is Wellness Director for Benedictine Living Community of Wahpeton

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