We look forward to going home for the holidays. Maybe we go back to our childhood home and slip back into our roles as the children..as opposed to the adults we really are!
But every year, we seem to find changes…in our parents, sometimes in the remaining parent as one is already passed. The changes can be obvious, looking like increased frailty or forgetfulness. Sometimes the changes are harder to distinguish, such as a reduction in vision or hearing. We all adjust to changes and make accommodations in our daily activities to maintain our independence and control. Our parents are just the same. They will make the subtle adjustments to continue to cope with the changes in their own abilities and health. You may observe a gentle touch on the backs of the chair or top of the sofa as your mom navigates the living room. She is “furniture surfing” and the brush of her hand provides vital clues to help keep her from falling or simply losing her balance. It is a subtle change and one you could easily miss but if you catch it, the observation can be an opening to a simple inquiry about the latest vision or hearing check.
With all the cooking going on, it is a good chance to check the contents of the refrigerator and the cupboards for expired food. Consider new utensils in contrasting colors and a white and/or black cutting board for greater visibility preparing fresh ingredients. Measuring cups and spoons come in bright colors as well.
Take a look around the house for piles of paper, accumulating mail and magazines. If your parents are fearful of identity theft, consider a shredder and a bit of organization for the bills and important mail. Piles of paper create tripping and fire hazards, too.
So, just take a look around with the eyes of safety person for a few minutes and see if there are opportunities for the little changes that will help retain the independence of our loved ones, preventing falls one step at a time!
And enjoy and cherish each moment!