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by Lori Williams

The holidays are the perfect time to catch up with our family and friends, many whom we may not have seen since last year’s holiday season. Often times, we are shocked to see how much our senior loved ones have declined since our last visit. Unfortunately, most seniors aren’t going to ask for help or share with you the entire truth about how they’re doing over a phone conversation or email. They’re likely to downplay issues because they don’t want to worry you, or they’re afraid they will have to move from their home.

When visiting it’s extremely important to be aware of the signs that your loved one may be declining or is in an unsafe environment. Use this checklist to search for clues:

1. Physical Appearance – take note of any changes in weight (loss or gain) and any changes in balance. Are they dressed appropriately and are their clothes clean? How is their dental hygiene? Do you notice any changes in hearing or vision? Are there any signs of a recent fall, such as bruising?

2. Emotional Well-Being –do you notice any short-term memory loss or confusion? Do they seem depressed or anxious? Have they withdrawn from friends, church, etc.? How are they sleeping?

3. Home Environment – is the house cluttered and dirty? Check for expired, spoiled food. Be sure to check the bottoms of cookware to see if they’re scorched, as this could be a sign that they’re forgetting food cooking on the stove. Check for clear pathways and good lighting to prevent tripping hazards.

4. Finances – are there stacks of unpaid bills? Bills being paid 2 or 3 times in one month? Check bank statements for evidence of falling prey to scammers.

5. New Diagnosis/Medications – are they taking medications as prescribed? When was their last doctor visit? Have they received any new diagnosis – dementia, heart disease, vertigo, etc.

6. Ability to Drive – are there any unexplained dings/dents to car and/or garage? Check the side mirrors too! Take a ride with them to assess how well they’re driving.

Once you’ve completed your checklist it’s time to see what the clues tell you?

• A+…no warning signs on your checklist. Great! This is the perfect time to have an open conversation about aging, and what they’re wishes are for the future.

• A few check marks on the list. They’re doing okay, but you see some things that concern you. Here are some ways to address concerns, so they can safely remain in their home: eliminate fall risks, declutter the house, remove throw rugs, add better lighting, install grab bars in the bathroom, add a shower chair, hire someone to maintain the yard, set up automated bill payment, make sure they’re using a pill box dispenser to better manage their medications, add a med alert pendant.

• LOTS of clues, but they want to remain in their home. You can implement all of the changes mentioned above PLUS hire a caregiver. Note, this can quickly become a very expensive option, especially if they need 24 hour care.

• Your checklist is full and your loved one is UNSAFE AT HOME. It’s time to talk to a senior living expert to come up with your next steps. You will want to work with a local, experienced placement service to guide you through this process. My team and I have helped 1,000’s of families in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. We match you with the community that best fits your loved ones care needs, budget and location. We help take an overwhelming process, and break it down into simple steps. Our network includes, realtors, estate sale companies, packers/movers, elder law attorneys, and more. Best of all, our service is free! To begin your search for a senior community, call 214-783-1222 or visit our website:

To learn more about senior living resources and options, be sure to subscribe to my podcast, Aging in Style with Lori Williams. We talk about all topics senior related and celebrate inspirational seniors who are aging in style! You can find the podcast on Apple, Spotify, iHeartRadio, Google, Alexa and on my website.

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