The Fall and Winter holidays mean different things to different people, but for most of us, they are very much about family. Here are some observances to be mindful of as you engage with your elderly parents or family friends.

– Check-in on your elders’ well-being
Especially if you haven’t visited in a while. When we see someone every day, we may not notice health changes because they happen gradually. On the other hand, when we visit seniors whom we haven’t seen in a while, it may be starkly obvious that they need help. If you’re visiting your parents in their home, check their refrigerator and pantry to make sure they’re eating fresh, healthy food. Survey the overall safety of their home, assuring that smoke and carbon monoxide alarms have batteries, and that the rooms don’t have fall hazards.

– Help your loved ones stay engaged
Seniors who live alone can suffer from depression due to limited mobility in the winter months. Be inclusive and invite older relatives and family friends to your celebration, offering transportation if they need it. Older loved ones may need emotional support during this time. Make sure they are comfortable and not overburdened with preparations. If an older loved one seems lonely, take time to listen. Are they missing family members who have passed away?

– Guide your loved one to live independently
While helping is important, it’s also important that our older loved ones have the knowledge, support and tools needed to live independently when your visit is over. If you are concerned about your loved one’s safety, teach them skills that help to compensate for deficits. Also make sure there is a local support system for your loved one, and set them up with resources to help them stay safe at home, such as meal delivery services, mobility devices and medical alarms.

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