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After the Holidays—Do Your Parents Need Help?

older man and adult son sit at home having serious discussionAfter the holidays, many of us return to our daily routines after spending quality time with family. During these reunions—and reflecting on them—we may recognize changes in our parents. And, while it’s normal for people to evolve over time, sometimes changes indicate a need for additional help.

So, what should you consider in deciding if your parents need extra assistance? Here are three essential areas to think about.

  1. Daily Living. Observing the day-to-day activities is one of the best ways to evaluate if intervention is needed. Do your parents struggle with basic activities like cooking, cleaning, or personal hygiene? Are there piles of unopened mail, expired groceries, or an unusually messy living space? If you note a decline in their ability to manage tasks or responsibilities, they may need support.
  2. Physical and Mental Health. It’s normal to be absentminded occasionally, but persistent forgetfulness and confusion is not. Is there a significant change in their memory? Do they neglect to take their medication or skip meals? Similarly, are there unexplained bruises, weight loss, or a different personal appearance? These may indicate a change in health and a need for extra professional care.
  3. Emotional Well-Being. The holidays can be a stressful time for everyone, but there are emotional responses which can be significant. Is your loved one unusually withdrawn, anxious, or lonely? Have they lost interest in activities they used to enjoy? If so, they may be struggling emotionally; additional companionship and aid could be required.

If you do feel your parents need additional help, the first step is to talk with them about it. Initiating the conversation can be challenging, but expressing concern and listening can also create a safe space for your parents to share their own feelings and challenges.

To compassionately start a conversation:

  • Express concern and observations. Begin in a place of love and concern. Use specific examples of what you have noticed, framing them as changes you’ve seen rather than problems. The goal is to avoid making your parents feel defensive and provide space for an honest discussion about their needs.
  • Share feelings while offering assistance. Reinforce that you want the best for them as they age. Reassure them that asking for help is okay and not weakness or failure. Offer assistance in finding suitable solutions, whether it’s hiring in-home help, exploring assisted living options, or coordinating support from other family members.
  • Discuss future plans together. Remember this conversation is about collaboration. Ask your parents about their wishes and preferences for the future. Discuss options and create a plan together so they maintain a sense of control and autonomy.

Holidays provide an invaluable opportunity to reconnect with the ones we love most. It also is a great time to assess the well-being of our aging loved ones and ensure they receive the support they need to age gracefully and comfortably.

Source: IlluminAge AgeWise