As we approach the holiday season, many of us travel home to visit our aging parents. Despite having regular phone conversations, you may not be aware of the age-related decline that has happened since your last visit. You may be surprised to find that dad is looking frail or that your family home that was once tidy home is now in disarray.

Here are a few simple things to look for during your holiday visits to determine if your loved ones need extra help:

  1. Mail is piling up that contains unpaid bills.
  2. Basic home maintenance has declined.
  3. Prescription medication and over-the-counter medications are expired.
  4. Cookware is scorched due to unattended cooking.
  5. Gait or balance has changed putting them at risk for falls.
  6. There is a noticeable weight loss.
  7. They have lost interest in hobbies or outside activities.
  8. Personal hygiene has declined.
  9. There is a change in sleep patterns.
  10. They are having difficulty with short-term memory.

If you are noticing a number of red flags during your visit, then it is time to start putting a plan in place. You may want to consider scheduling a medical visit to address possible serious conditions such as diabetes, heart failure, cancer, or dementia. An elder law attorney can assist with estate planning to include medical and financial power of attorney. You may also benefit from hiring a Health Advocate or care manager who can provide a home assessment and offer resources for helping your aging parents.