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During the holidays, families gather with loved ones seen less often. It is a wonderful time to bond, laugh, and love each other, but there is something else that can be gained from spending time with aging family and friends.

This is a great opportunity to lay eyes on Mom or Dad and get a true assessment of their needs.

For the adult-child who lives far away and comes home less often, it is a unique chance to observe how

Mom has changed over the last year. Those who see her more often may be less likely to notice small and gradual changes like weakness and memory deficiencies. Those who do visit often can offer a nice perspective and baseline from which to begin the discussion about what the next step should be. Things to look for:

  • Tidiness: Is you loved one cleaning less and is personal hygiene less than it used to be?
  • Is Mom less talkative and engaging? Is she maybe compensating for a deficiency?
  • Does Dad not keep the yard as neat as he once did or is he losing interest in friends and outings?
  • Has grandma consistently told you all is well yet her food isn’t quite as flavorful and her cooking skills seems to be slightly “off”?

While these changes are often typical of the aging process, they may also represent something bigger. The secret is to be aware, ask questions, and intervene early to avoid something more significant happening. Also, kick back and enjoy the time with your loved ones. Life is very short so every moment we have is precious.