If you are returning home this holiday season to spend time with aging relatives, take a few minutes to check things out and make sure they are still safe at home. You don't need to make a big production out of it, but here are some things to keep an eye out for:
- Is there adequate lighting inside and out to prevent falls?
- Is the refrigerator stocked with food? Is any of it spoiling?
- Are there any throw rugs that could cause falls?
- Is their mail piling up unopened?
- Are your normally tidy parents having a harder time with housekeeping?
- Is their house warm enough?
- Are their medications up-to-date?
- Do your loved ones seems healthy?
Just because you notice some issues, doesn't mean your parents can't be living at home. It may mean that you need to bring up having someone come in to help with meals or housekeeping, offering to help out with mail (like canceling unwanted catalogs or charitable requests), having someone come in to hang safety rails, hiring someone to shovel the walk this winter.
When broaching these subjects, be gentle. Do not suddenly announce that you are taking over and getting things in order. Do not begin divvying up tasks with your siblings without talking with your parent first. They may welcome your help, but they will be much more receptive if you remember that it is their house and their life and proceed accordingly.
And remember to enjoy the holidays!