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Home for the Holidays: A Checklist for Visiting Aging Parents

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The presents are wrapped. The cookies are baked and the whole family is looking forward to finally being back together this year. Holidays are always a special time, but after so many months of staying apart, the opportunity to check in and see how older family members are doing is especially important this holiday season.


But what should you look for? And how should you respond to any issues you find – without adding stress to the celebration?


The team of experts at Ready Set Care, a personalized digital care advisor, has put together a checklist of recommendations – and resources – to bring stress-free health and safety advice to your holiday visit.


The Home 


  1. What does the house look like – is it neat, clutter-free or full of trip and fall risks? Are appliances, heating and lights working? Are there repairs that should have been made, but have been neglected?
  2. Are there piles of unopened mail or past due bills?
  3. Are the refrigerator and cabinets stocked? Is the food fresh or past its “best by” date?


If there are issues, can they be solved easily with a housekeeper or part-time caregiver (or even a handyman)? 

Should you consider making home modifications?

If there are unpaid bills or other financial issues, what are the options


And, if it looks like they can no longer manage living at home – what are the alternatives?

Physical & Mental Health


  1. How does Mom look? Does she seem more frail or having difficulty getting around? 
  2. Does Dad seem more forgetful, confused or moody?
  3. Is medication organized and being taken on schedule?
  4. Are they getting out of the house to connect with others socially or do they seem isolated?


If you have questions about a parent’s well-being, it may be time to connect with their health care provider or talk with an aging life care professional or geriatric care manager to assess the situation and find the needed resources. 

Could technology help manage medications? Start by keeping track of your loved one’s medications in the RSC Care Journal. Can a fall detection device add a layer of security?


Social isolation, always an issue in aging, has increased dramatically during the pandemic. Feeling connected to others is key to healthy aging, and there are a range of technology solutions, from video chats to virtual classes, that might help. If your parents are not comfortable with technology, there are a number of organizations, such as Senior Planet from AARP and local groups that provide free training.


The Car: Driving


  1. If your parent still drives, how does their car look: dents, scratches, upkeep?
  2. How is their driving ability? Can you arrange for a  “test drive” with them?
  3. Can your parent get in and out of the car easily, and can they manage the vehicle while on the road?


Before you enter into a conversation about driving, be sure you have researched solutions. Is public transportation easy to access in their area? Are they comfortable using Uber, Lyft and other ride-sharing options? 


Your Connections


Does the visit make you feel like you need to be closer, more connected? If you live hundreds of miles away, this may not be possible. 


Try scheduling regular calls with your loved one to  check-in and provide support. You can also have a neighbor or local friend check-in on them regularly and keep you informed.


For them, feeling supported and cared for might be the best gift of all. 



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