Even as an adult, there's something nice about sharing Christmas with your parents.
But after two years of COVID-19 lockdowns, you may be visiting your ageing parents after a really long time.
As special as your family reunion will be, it may also be a surprise if you notice your parents are slowing down.
It can be easy to disregard your parents' forgetfulness or the state of their house while you're celebrating with family. But if you know what to look for, there are signs your parents might need some extra help to stay living well at home.
Here's what to look for:
Weight loss and unironed clothes, an unshaven face or unbrushed hair are signs your parents are struggling with personal hygiene. Look out for noticeable bruises on arms and legs, as these can signal trips and falls.
Damaged bathroom fixtures
Loose towel rails or ripped shower curtains can indicate your parents are using these bathroom fixtures to help hoist themselves up or prevent themselves from falling.
The state of the home and backyard
Housekeeping might have become too physically challenging for your parents. Look out for piles of laundry, overgrown lawns, dirty windows and clutter.
Mail piling up, bills unpaid
If your parents have poor eyesight or memory, even simple tasks like collecting the mail or paying bills can be hard to manage.
Pantry and fridge near-empty
Ask your parents how often they go grocery shopping (or get groceries delivered) and whether they're still cooking their favourite meals. This might prompt them to ask for help.
Loss of licence, or lost confidence in driving
Now our towns are opening up again, are your parents heading back into town? Can they take public transport, ask family and friends for a lift, or join local planned activity groups with transport provided? These options are worth exploring.
They don't do the things they once loved
Being around others can be overwhelming after we have spent all of this time keeping our distance. But if your parents don't seem interested in leaving the house, it might be worth talking about how they can maintain social connections in a safe and meaningful way.
As confronting as it is to realise mum or dad is slowing down, there are plenty of options for home help.
If you'd like friendly, easy-to-understand advice, phone Latrobe Community Health Service today. We have been providing home care services for older Australians for more than 20 years, and we know Australia's aged care system inside-out.
Phone 1800 242 696 for free advice and guidance.