Aging in Style with Lori Williams
Aging in Style with Lori Williams

Episode · 2 months ago

064. Home for the Holidays Checklist – Is it time to move?


The holidays are coming, and maybe it’s the first time you’ve seen your family in a year (or even 2 years thanks to the pandemic). If you’re visiting elderly family members, it’s important to be alert and observant. Many families get together during the holidays and notice a decline in their loved ones since their last gathering.

Senior living expert Lori Williams draws from her professional experience and offers 6 categories you should be aware of when visiting family. From your loved one’s physical health to the state of the home, there are different signs to look out for. For example, if your mother was always a neat freak and suddenly her house is a disaster, there might be a deeper issue going on.

You’ll learn what to look out for to ensure your family members’ wellbeing. Even if some details are concerning, it may not always mean it’s time for senior living, but it may just be time to step in and get help in place. Either way, you can plan the best course of action for their safety and happiness.

Takeaways from this episode: 

- When visiting your elderly loved ones, look at their physical appearance, emotional wellbeing, their home environment, finances, medical diagnoses, medications, and the ability to drive.

- Look out for changes that contradict how your loved ones used to be. If they’ve isolated themselves when they’re normally a social butterfly, it’s time to dig deeper.

- Seemingly random details can be a sign of dementia. Do they have moldy food in the fridge or burnt pots and pans? Have they bought 10 boxes of the same type of cereal?

- Check their medications for any expired bottles or potential interactions and side effects.

- Try taking a short drive with your loved one to see if they’re able to do so safely.

- If you go home and see your father can’t get up the stairs, there’s no food in the house, or things are in a bad state, don’t wait - call a senior living specialist.

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Dangerous driving? How to have the conversation about giving up the keys:

A conversation about fall prevention:

To suggest a topic, be a guest or to support the podcast please email

For more senior resources and to sign up to the newsletter, please visit:

Topics discussed: 

  1. Signs of dementia
  2. Fall prevention
  3. Senior scams
  4. When seniors should stop driving
  5. Senior hygiene
  6. Senior loneliness and COVID
  7. Signs it’s time for senior living
  8. Benefits of senior living

So you've gone through your clues rightand you are holy cow, you have checked off the mother load. You'rejust like they are. Unsafe at home morning, morning, oh my gosh, so say you call me and you say Larie. Oh my gosh.We went home to Tennessee and my parents have a two story house. Dadcan't even get up the stairs. Now he's sleeping in his recliner downstairs becausehe can't get upstairs. There's no food in the house. I don't knowhow they're making it. So it is time. At this point you needto talk to an expert and it's looking like we've got to get them moved. We've got to figure out what the next step is. Welcome to agingin style with me, Laurrie Williams. I'm an optimist by nature and Ibelieve you can follow your dreams at any age. My grandmother's journey with dementiaignited a passion and need to work with seniors. I've spent the past thirteenyears learning about seniors and aging. In my mid S, I followed myown dream and found at my company, where I use my expertise to helpseniors locate housing and resources. On this podcast, we cover all aspects ofaging. Joanna's each week to meet senior living experts and inspirational seniors who arefollowing their dreams. The fact is, we're all aging, so why notdo it in style? Hi, welcome to to today's episode of aging instyle with Laurie Williams. Today we are talking about about the holidays. Yes, the holidays. I always like to do a show on this because workingand senior living as long as I have, it's a topic that always comes upwhen people go home to visit their parents or their grandparents. Maybe youhaven't seen them in a while, six months, maybe a year, maybetwo years, you never know. People live all over the place, statesaway, so you're maybe you're communicating, talking on the phone or emailing,but a lot of times families go home to visit at the holidays and they'reshocked at what they see. They see, you know, a huge decline intheir parents the house. You know there's there's lots of signs that maybehave been kind of kept secret, and I maybe not meaning to keep itsecret, but they don't want to worry you or they don't want you tosay hey, mom or dad, it's time to be the senior living.So a lot going on there. But that's what we're going to talk abouttoday because I want you guys to have the signs to look for when you'rehome visiting and I've put together a checklist and we're going to go over thatchecklist and what we are looking for when we go home to visit. WhatI like to think of is to just kind of think of yourself like adetective. Right, you're going in, you're going to look for clues thatthings are not as they should be. In the top six places that we'regoing to start. The signs that we're going to look for, if youwill, physical appearance, and we're going to go over each of these indetail. Emotional wellbeing, the home environment, finances, new diagnosis, medications ortaking and the ability to drive. So how are we going to starthere? Right, we're going to go home, we drive up, we'regoing to see mom and dad. We haven't seen them in a year.We drive up to the house, we're going to just kind of take everythingin. So first clue physical appearance. MOM opens the door. She's normallyperfectly dressed, you know, her hair's done, but she opens the doorand she's in her pajamas. Maybe maybe your hair has not been cut ina while. Maybe she's lost weight. These are clues, guys. Sothat's what we're looking for. We're looking to see are they dressed appropriately?are their clothes clean and in good condition? How about their hygiene? Does itlook like they haven't showered in a while? Their hair is grown out? Their hairs dirty? Maybe Your Dad,...

...who's normally like the Super Clean ShavenGuy, he's got a lot of you know, beard growth going on, just not looking like they should. Maybe they've gained weight or lost weight. Either way, changes that you know are noticeable with their hearing or vision. You just want to get kind of that clear picture. If this doesnot look like how grandma, you know, has always looked in the past,then something's off. Next thing we're going to look for, along withthe physical appearance, any evidence of falls, because falls, that is the gamechanger for our seniors. And you know, it's funny. I wastalking to my mom the other day. My mom actually had a fall.She was getting out of bed. She had a Charley horse and kind ofjumped out of bed and slipped on her slipper that was on the hardwood floor. I hope she doesn't get mad at me for telling the story. Butanyhow, says she's slipped on her slipper and fell and hit her tin onher nightstand and she's got a nice bruise going but she told me that everytime she goes to the doctor they always ask when was your last fall?And she was a little a little miffed about that. Actually she and she'seighty two, but she is a very young eighty two and she does notlike being asked and when her last fall was. Well, now she hasto say, you know, I just had a fall. But it's avery important because it is something that happens a lot as we age. Fallsare just part of aging. Unfortunately, there are things that we can donot to fall or to make it less likely to fall, but this isa clue that we have to look for. So when you're home visiting, youneed to kind of check, you know, are there unexplained bumps andbruises? You know, like with my mom, if she hadn't told methat she had had a fall and I went home and saw this big bruiseon her jaw, I would have questions. So you're going to look for thosetypes of things. Also, any change and balance or mobility. Doyou see them, you know, look a little off balance? Maybe they'reholding on furniture, holding the wall as they're walking their gate just looks alittle bit off. You know, you just want to be, as Isaid, a detective and just kind of looking for these clues that something mayhave changed. The next clue we're going to look for this is clue numbertwo. We've already looked at the physical appearance. Kind of taken all ofthat in. Next on our checklist is the emotional well being and this isjust so critical because with covid we have seen a huge decline and lots ofour seniors with their emotional wellbeing. The very difficult for everyone to be inthe lockdown and I know we're kind of hopefully coming out on the other sideof Covid. It's not like what it was last year, but still there'sa lot of seniors who have not ventured out much. They're still pretty isolatedin their home. So that's where we're looking at. The emotional wellbeing.We're looking to see if there's any signs of depression, anxiety, with drawingfrom friends and church, activities. That's a big clue when someone tells me, Hey, you know, my mom was super involved with her church group. She was there every week, she was there Unwin d s Day,she did pot like, she did Bible Study, she did all this andnow she's withdrawn, she doesn't want to go. Why? What's happened?These are the questions we need to ask. So we need to really be askingthose questions. Oh Hey, mom, you know. So you still involvedwith, you know, quilting? Are you still going to the seniorcenter? Just find out what's going on? Have they isolated themselves? Is itbecause they're not feeling well? Is it because there maybe some dementia goingon? Is it because they're afraid to co Oud? And you know withcovid something is going on. If they've never been one to isolate, somethinghas changed and we need to find out what that is. Are they havingtrouble sleeping? This is a big one.

A lot of seniors have trouble sleeping. What's causing that? Could it be anxiety? Could it be somethingwith her medication? You know what's going on, because that's going to affecttheir overall health if they're not sleeping and of course. Are we noticing anyshort term memory loss, you know, repeating themselves over and over when theydidn't last time you were visiting, or just missing words, you know,not able to get the word they're trying to think of, kind of likeI just did just then. But you know, we're looking for just theclues like that. Flue number three, the home environment. All right,so we're going to take in kind of look at their house. What's goingon? Now? My Mom's house is always perfect. There's no dust,there's, you know, nothing out of place. If I were to goand visit her and saw a lot of clutter, a lot of you know, the House look dirty, dishes in the sink, things like that,I would be concerned because that would be out of character for her, unless, you know, she had been sick or something you know had been goingon. But if it was just sort of nothing had happened, we're justcoming in to visit and the houses of mess, I would be worried.So you're going to look for that. You're going to look at the lightingin the house because, again, back to the whole fall risk, wewant to eliminate any reason that they could fall, and poor lighting is afactor. That is a reason that someone could fall. We're also going tolook at any other tripping hazards and we've covered this on other episodes of thePODCAST, but we want to look at things like stacks of magazines and papersand walkways that are cluttered where they can't walk clearly through or, like Isaid with my mom's case, slippers by the bed on the hardwood floor.So she's changed that. Let me tell you, she doesn't want to dothat again. But but we want to just make sure that there's if theyneed in the bathroom, because a lot of falls happen at night. Theyfall in the bathroom. So let's make sure we've got grab bars, wehave different things in place. So we just want to be inspecting the houseand then we're going to come up with some solutions. We're also going tolook at Cook where pick up the cook where turn it over the bottom isscorched. Very good chance that they are forgetting they have food cooking on thestove, which could be tied to dementia and walking off and leaving it.So that's that's something you definitely want to look for. You want to openthe fridge, you want to see if there's expired food, Moldy bread,mouldy you know whatever in the refrigerator, you want to also open up thepantry look and see are they buying the same thing over and over? Irecently had a lady that she had dementia and thankfully, sort of thankfully,she fell and had to go to the hospital and it was discovered how faradvanced her dementia had become. And then when our friends went into the housethey saw all of these clues that were talking about. Her house was amess. They found Moldy Food and they found ten boxes of the same cereal, most opened with maybe just a teeny bit taken out, but it waslike every time she would go to the grocery she was buying another box ofthis cereal and not remembering that she had it. So ten boxes of thesame cereal. If you see something like that, we have some questions thatsomething's going on. We're also not just the inside of the home, we'relooking at the outside of the home too. So, you know, look around, make sure that walkways are safe. If Your Dad always maintain the lawnand now it's overgrown and there's weeds and it's a big hot mess.We need to see what's going on there. So see physically no longer capable ofdoing the lawn. Maybe we need to get, you know, aservice in to help out. Is You just want thinking about it? Isthere some dementia? So it's not even the thought now we just kind ofneed to get to the bottom of it.

You know what's happening there. Soagain this is on your checklist. You need to check off overgrown lawn. What's happening here? Next up, clue for we're going to look atfinances, and this is a big one. I have people call me all thetime and you know, this is a lot of concerns here. Thisis when we see that there's some dementia going on. You go in tovisit there's stacks of mail and bills just piled up, bills that have notbeen paid or sometimes bills that had been paid two and three times already forone month. You are going to want to gain access to look at theirbank statements, and sometimes it's a hard one to do, but you know, try and get that open conversation because there are unfortunately a lot of scammersout there and they are just I mean they're the scum of the earth,but it is happening. I just was speaking with policeman last week who toldme that there's a big increase and what they call romance scams. I'm actuallygoing to talk to him about being on the podcast past because I want tolearn more about that, because I did have a family here recently where themother had been scammed out of her house and that's all she had was thishouse. And I'm not sure the details of how this Gamera did it,but he romanced her. She thought it was the real deal. They werein love, and I mean even though you're in your s and S,people still want love, you know, and so she thought this was thereal deal and she ended up losing everything that she had. So there's thatbalance, right. But we do want to talk to them about finances andjust make sure that there's no one out there taking advantage of them, especiallywhen we go back to being isolated and lonely. That's how people fall.Pray. It doesn't mean that they're dumb, I mean they're just falling victim tothis. It's an emotional prime. I guess I just made that up, but I don't know. I'm going to call it. That sort oflike an emotional crime. Sounds good. Okay, clue number five. Wewant to see if there's been any new diagnosis or medications at it. Sowe want to make sure that medications being taking properly. This is really important. If you can get them to do this, perhaps a medication review withthe pharmacists, because a lot of seniors, you know, maybe on thirty orforty medications, which to me is just mind blowing. But you knowone doctor over here, maybe you know, prescribing something and another one here.How do you know that they're not interacting? Do they really need thismedication? This one could be causing this side effect, could just be awhole host of problems. So it's really important to do a medication review.Also check through their medications make sure there's not like a lot of expired medications, you know, and it's hard to I just kind of thought of thisbecause I've noticed for myself it's hard to read the expiration dates on some ofthese medication models or like for suit of bad or whatever. I know wego through every now and then through ours, and it's like, Oh, holycrap, there's something from, you know, two years ago. It'sbeen expired for two years. So I know it's hard for our seniors toto be able to read those dates to check with them. When was thelast visit to the doctor? When did they last go, because they shouldbe having regular checkups. We all should be having regular checkups. Did theyschedule an appointment and then not go? I hear that all the time whenI'm talking to families that you know mom or dad were supposed to go andthey either forgot about the appointment because there's some dementia going on or they justcanceled it because they did not want to go. Have there been any newdiagnosis since the last time you were visiting? has her been a diagnosis, maybeof dementia, heart disease, Parkinson's, Vertigo, cancer, so many differentthings, but you need to ask those questions and hopefully they have toldyou if they were diagnosed with Parkinson's. I do mind that with couples sometimesthey will keep quiet about dementia and cover...

...for each other, but I meanit's so important to really just try to have those open conversations. Okay,moving along on our checklist. Clue number six the ability to drive, andthis is this is always a hot topic. Y'All. You know I talk topeople all the time who don't want to take the keys away from theirparents and I totally get it's a hard thing to do, but there's somepeople out there driving that have no business on the road and we just hadhere in flower man, where I live, there was a gentleman just went missing. He left his house, didn't say anything, didn't take his phoneor anything. He just left the House and he like ten o'clock at nightand then they were looking for him. No one could find him. Hedid turn up later the next day. I don't know what the story was, but silver alert went out for him and you know, I'm not sureif you had to menture what was going on, but things like this happenand so it's a hard conversation have. It's hard to say too, especiallyto your father, that it's time to take away the keys, and weare going to focus more on that. I'm going to do a show comingup soon. We're we're going to talk about how we can get better abouthaving that conversation and helping make the transition to giving up the car. Butback to our clues, we're going to take a look at the car andsee if there's dings or dense anything unexplained on the car. Check the sidemirrors, because side mirrors are one and that are easy to hit. Andyou know what, I will be completely transparent. I have hit my sidemirrors on the garage before. So I do remember now to because I havelike a button I can push it in the little close them in, whichmakes it easier. But there was a time when I didn't have that onone car and I actually took one of my side mirrors off. But that'syeah, that's another story. But we also want to look at damage tothe garage again. Done that, but we want to, you know,just see if there's a lot of unexplained things, especially okay, so ifthey weren't like me, you know hitting the garage and their younger days,and now suddenly these things are happening, we definitely want to take a lookand check that on our list. Here's a really good idea. Take aride with your dad or your mom to assess their driving. Say, youknow, let's run to the grocery store, you drive and just see are theystopping at the Stop Signs? Are they kind of blowing through them?Do they seem unsteady house or parking looking just notice if they're not driving likethey normally did, either driving too slow or too fast or just just notdriving in the safe manner. That's going to be a clue for you.And then, of course, vision issues. Have the or has her vision changesor some macular degeneration? Is that getting worse? Should they be driving? It's one of those things we don't want to give up our independence rightand our car as the last really big piece of independence. If you can'tjust jump in your car and rent to the grocery or rent a McDonald's orwherever you want to go, it's a really hard thing to give up.And then, of course, the big one, dementia. Are they gettinglost? Should they be driving? Do they have the wherewithal y'all, Ihad a gentleman who actually was still driving and he was pretty progressed with hisdementia. You know, the family did not want him, they didn't wantto have this conversation and he actually drove over to the wrong house. Imean you know a lot of times homes look very similar in neighborhoods and hewent to the wrong house and parked in the driveway and was trying to getin the house. So I mean it was time for him to stop drivingand probably time for him to be more in a secure area. So thoseare some things to be looking at on your checklist. So those are ourtop six items that were going to go...

...through. So once you have completedthe checklist, go back kind of review it and then let's see what didthe clues tell you? Okay, they're absolutely fine. You saw nothing wrong. That is awesome. This is a great time to ask your parents.Are Your parents, what their wishes are for the future. Let's have thoseconversations if things are to progress. Were maybe you're having a hard time takingcare of the home or you're falling or dementia or something happens. What areyour wishes? Let's talk about it, and the holidays are a great timeto talk about it because there's usually other family members there, and I mean, you know, test the waters if if things are getting a little hot, you know, and and there's it's turning into more of an argument.Maybe back off, but you know, you know your family and every family'sdifferent and there's always going to be some family drama. I mean, Idon't think any of US get away from family drama, but just I wouldtry to start that conversation just to know what you know, what their thoughtsare for the future. Have they given it any thought? Back to yourchecklist. You go through it and you're like, you know, they're doingokay, but I see some signs, like I see maybe your dad ishis gates off a little bit. He's a little shaky when he's walking andyou know, maybe he needs to add a walker. Maybe the bathroom.You're concerned about that because he's a little weaker than he should be. Isthere a shower chair? If not, get a shower chair in their forum. Put some grab bars, make sure the lighting is that. We don'twant them falling. Check for things. We've talked about this before, butthrow rugs. Oh my gosh, people fall on those Dang throw rugs allthe time. I'm so you need to take a look at that, youknow, help them, just see some things maybe they're not seeing every dayand explain to them I don't want you to fall, so let's make thingssafer for you. Okay. Again, back to your checklist. You sawa lot of things on on your checklist and you're alarmed, but they donot want to leave their home. And I get it. A lot ofseniors don't want to leave their home and there are, you know, somethings we can do to keep them safe and and they can stay there.But if they're pretty advanced that you're very concerned about them, an option youcan do? Or all the above, do some safety modifications to the home, but also maybe bring in a companion home care service. And depending though, just know this that depending on how much care is needed, if someone'sare seven, it is incredibly expensive. If you can afford it, youknow they want to stay in their home, then great, but I will tellyou right now that is going to be your most expensive option. Soyou've gone through your clues right and you are holy cow, you have checkedoff the mother load. You're just like they are unsafe at home morning morning. Oh my gosh. So it is time. At this point, youneed to talk to an expert and it's looking like we got to get themmoved. We've got to figure out what the next step is. So thatis where your best spat, instead of trying to Google and figure out ananswer, is to contact someone like me, because what my service does is wewill work with you to figure out what care is needed. Let's talkabout your parents. So say you call me and you say Lori, ohmy gosh, we went home to Tennessee and my parents have a two storyhouse. Their bedrooms upstairs. They're trying to get up the stairs. Dadcan't even get up the stairs. Now he's sleeping in his recliner downstairs becausehe can't get upstairs. There's no food in the house. I don't knowhow they're making it. That's a nine one. Guys. We've got toget them moved and so we will talk with you, figure out what youknow, what their care needs are,...

...and we're we're going to move them, removing them here to Texas to be by you. Great, let's findout, you know, what their budget is, find out about them,we find out what they like to do and then we match with different communities. So that is the best and easiest way to do it and take allof that stress off of you, because we don't want you stress. You'vegot through this checklist, you went home for a lovely holiday and here youare discovering that we've got to do something, and so let us, as experts, guide you through this process and help you find those answers, becauseyou've done your job. Will do our job now. So anyhow, Ihope that help. So when you go home, please take this information andjust do whether you print out a checklist to take with you or you justdo a mental checklist of the things we talked about. Please, please dothat, because it's better to be proactive than to be reactive. And Imay have mentioned this on a past podcast, but this one just sticks in mymind that because it was such a reactive kind of situation. But therewas a lady in her s who had dementia, very far advanced dementia,non verbal, could not care for herself at all and her adult son wascaring for her. He was her only caregiver. There was no one elsein the area checking on them. The rest of the family lived out ofstate and he died suddenly and thank God there were neighbors who checked on her, because this woman could not care for herself and so there was no planin place. There was nothing. If this happened, you know, whatare we going to do? Where is she going to go? So wethankfully were able to put a plan in place for her get a caregiver inthere right away and get her into a safe long term situation. Okay,guys. So I hope you take this tool, because this is what Iconsider it to be, this checklist, a tool for you, and thatyou go home, you go visit your parents and your grandparents and I hopethat they are doing great and that they need none of this. But ifthey do, if they need assistance in the home or need to actually transitionelsewhere, please reach out. We are happy to help you with this,answering your questions and leading you to the right resources. So, anything youneed, go back to our website. It's Lari Williams senior Servicescom visit allof our different podcasts. We have sixty four episodes. Now go back andlisten to any. So, Hey, if you're driving somewhere, this wouldbe a great time to listen to several of the podcast episodes and please alsoshare this information with your friends and family members because, as you know,the purpose of this podcast is to really share the education with everyone so thatthey know what kind of source resources are out there and know what to lookfor to be sure that we are helping our senior family members have the bestquality of life and thank you, as always for listening, and happy Thanksgiving, Mary Christmas whenever you listen to this, just enjoy your holidays. Thanks.We'll talk to you next week. By by.

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