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Senior Holiday Checklist

You've just returned to your childhood home for the holidays, but things don't look the same. Are the conditions of aging jeopardizing your senior's health and safety at home?

Find home care near you or your loved one:

The "look-and-see signs" that can tell whether your loved ones need help at home

You've just returned to your childhood home for the holidays, but things don't look the same. Are the conditions of aging jeopardizing your senior's health and safety at home? Complete this checklist provided by Home Instead®, the international caregiving company. If you see any of these situations, your senior may need extra help.

  • Look in the refrigerator, freezer and drawers. Spoiled food or a mostly empty refrigerator can mean your parent can't get to the grocery store. Your loved one's declining health also may be prompting more convenience and junk foods, and a neglect of proper nutrition. According to Mayo Clinic, older adults often have health issues that can lead to decreased appetite or trouble eating. These can include chronic illness, medications, difficulty chewing or swallowing, and diminished taste and smell.
  • Look on top of furniture and countertops. Dust and dirt in high and low places may be signs that household tasks are becoming more difficult for your parents. Caution your senior not to climb or reach where they're no longer able. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), falls are the leading cause of injury and deaths among older adults. They are also the most common cause of nonfatal injuries and hospital admissions for trauma.
  • Look under beds and sofas. Old newspapers, books and magazines stowed there may show a decreased ability for your parent to organize things, thus creating a fire hazard. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, older adults are 2.5 times more likely to die in fires than the overall population.
  • Look through the mail. A parent's dementia may cause him or her to forget to pay bills and answer correspondence. The Alzheimer's Association estimates that as many as 5.2 million people in the United States are living with the disease, which is characterized by forgetfulness.
  • Look in the medicine cabinet. Check the refill date against the number of pills in the bottle to help determine if your loved one is taking medication regularly. Or call the pharmacy. According to Arcadia Healthcare, at least 1.5 million Americans are sickened, injured or killed each year by errors in prescribing, dispensing and taking medications.
  • Look at your senior's appearance. Unkempt clothing may signal that your loved one is neglecting personal hygiene because of failing vision. The Mayo Clinic cites macular degeneration as the leading cause of severe vision loss in people age 60 and older. Gray or blank spots may mask the center of your senior's visual field. The condition usually develops gradually, but sometimes progresses rapidly, leading to severe vision loss in one or both eyes.
  • Look to your parents' neighbors and other close friends to find out about their daily routine. If your seniors are at home more, watching television and avoiding stimulating conversation and companionship, it may be a sign they need help at home.

Consider contacting Home Instead. The company's CAREGiversSM are screened, trained, bonded and insured, and equipped to help seniors with their home care and companionship needs such as meal preparation, light housekeeping, medication reminders, errands and shopping.

The issues of aging often leave family caregivers speechless. That's because all sorts of potentially difficult situations arise as adults age. Talking sooner is better than waiting until a crisis occurs. Visit for tips and tools to bridge the communication gap between you and your senior loved ones.

Last revised: January 6, 2011

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Thoughts and stories from others
  1. October 13, 2011 at 4:54 pm | Posted by ELEANOR VOELTZ

    I am concerned for all whom may need someone to help them do and care for their daily needs. If someone needs a working companion to be with them during the day to help with household tasks, I am interested in caring for you.


    • October 14, 2011 at 10:48 am | Posted by Cat Koehler

      Anyone who is interested in helping seniors, like you Eleanor, should consider applying to be a Home Instead CAREGiver. You can find your local franchise office by entering your zip code at It takes very special people to care for our wonderful seniors!


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