Observations to Note When Visiting Loved Ones

Holidays and home visits often go hand in hand. Visiting loved ones is a great opportunity to take a detailed look at their living situation. Changes in a family member’s lifestyle or habits can vary greatly and so catching something different may be difficult if you don’t know what to look for. These are some tips and questions to ask during your holiday visit to get a good sense of their current physical and mental well-being:


  • Are there signs of damage or disrepair in or around the house or to the car?
  • Is trash piled up and has not been thrown out?
  • Have any lightbulbs or batteries not been replaced?
  • Has the cleanliness of the house declined, especially in the kitchen and bathroom?
  • Is there a large amount of unopened mail?
  • Have items been stored in unusual or hazardous places?

Check if your family member is aware of these concerns.


  • Has your loved one lost any weight?
  • Are there signs of them skipping or forgetting meals?
  • Is there adequate food?

Check the refrigerator and pantry for expired or spoiled food items. Also, check the oven and microwave for any forgotten meals.

Personal Hygiene

  • Does your family member look more unkempt?
  • Do they not dress like they used to? Or wear dirty clothes when they do get dressed?
  • Are there signs of them not showering?
  • Are there any bruises that may indicate they’ve fallen?

Check for any reason that would have led to these observed changes.


  • Has mom or dad stopped socializing and/or given up hobbies they once enjoyed?
  • Do they have any new friends or organizations with whom they have a lot of contact?
  • Are they asking for repeated or large donations or loans?
  • Is there increased confusion? Do you notice your aging loved one repeating themselves more than before?
  • Are they showing increased irritability or apathy? Does he or she seem more withdrawn or sad?

Check if they are taking any medications that might contribute to these behaviors. Or not taking medications they should be. If possible, check their bank accounts for any significant charges.

Answering the questions in these four areas may help you determine if your aging loved one needs assistance. This isn’t an exhaustive list, but a guide to serve as a starting checklist. By starting the conversation early and getting support and information, you can help your loved one as they navigate this stage of their lives. As you spend time together this holiday season, observe and listen with these questions in mind. Have a happy holiday season!

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