Holidays an Ideal Time to Check on Mental & Physical Well-Being of Aging Loved Ones

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CHICAGO, Dec. 2, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The holidays are a time of year when many families visit their aging loved ones, often seeing them face-to-face for the first time in months, perhaps an entire year. That's why experts advise families to carefully watch for signs of possible depression or medical issues in older adults during holiday visits, be prepared with an arsenal of spirit-lifting activities and develop a plan of action before heading home.

For many families that are geographically separated from their aging loved ones, the holidays may provide a rare opportunity to look for potential warning signs of depression, or other medical issues. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 15 of every 100 adults over the age of 65 are affected by depression. BrightStar Care, a full service home care agency that provides both medical and non-medical care to clients from infants to elders, offers many services that address both physical and emotional health.

"Although the holiday season is typically a time of celebration and joy, this time of year can create a sense of nostalgia that may produce melancholy amongst the senior population," says Sharon Roth Maguire, Chief Clinical Officer of BrightStar Care. "Family visits are a prime opportunity to not only observe for warning signs, but also provide much-needed companionship, mental stimulation and general uplifting activities. In many cases, these visits can be lifesaving."

Roth Maguire encourages family members to look for the following signs when visiting their loved ones:

  • Physical Signs– Take note of changes in sleeping and eating habits, including reduced appetite and difficulty sleeping. Accidents around the home, including dizziness or falling could also indicate a physical condition or side effects of improperly mixing medications/taking the wrong doses.
  • Appearance – Not shaving, not doing hair or makeup and neglected hygiene can signal the inability to physically care for themselves on their own, or a loss of interest in appearance. Either may indicate depression, or a wide range of undiagnosed conditions that require professional attention.
  • Emotional Signs–Seniors are especially susceptible to feelings of isolation and depression because of health, financial issues or the loss of a spouse or other loved ones, especially during the holiday season. As families gather together, pay close attention to see if your aging loved one seems disinterested in group conversations and appears dazed or lackluster.
  • Environmental Signs– Look for an abnormally messy or cluttered home, piles of laundry or unpaid bills or rotting food in the refrigerator. Any of these things could be a sign that the older adult may be depressed, disinterested, or no longer be able to perform these household tasks on their own, requiring an outside caregiver to help.

Roth Maguire also suggests conducting meaningful activities with aging loved ones to create "Visits of Value" during the holidays, such as taking them to church or synagogue, attending a holiday performance (play or movie), helping them shop for gifts online or in stores if they are physically capable.

"Things like writing out holiday cards together, decorating the tree, baking a traditional family cookie recipe together or watch a holiday movie classic together will lift their spirits and create beautiful lasting memories," she said. "Even listening to their favorite music together – music can be very powerful for the spirit."

To find more helpful tips, videos, blog articles and downloads on this topic and others, please visit http://www.brightstarcare.com/blog/.

About BrightStar Care

Based in Chicago, BrightStar Care is a national franchise with more than 250 locations that provide full-service staffing of medical and non-medical homecare to private clients from children to older adults within their homes, as well as supplemental staffing to healthcare organizations and corporate clients. Each of BrightStar's locations pursue Joint Commission accreditation, a nationally recognized measure of quality that is utilized throughout the healthcare industry. BrightStar Care's well-qualified, attentive caregivers provide peace of mind to clients and their families, providing a customized care plan to match clients with qualified, pre-screened caregivers that best suit their needs. BrightStar Care is one of the few home care providers that offer both medical and non-medical homecare, available to all clients 24/7. BrightStar Care uses the nationally known patient satisfaction survey company Press Ganey to measure client satisfaction and is proud that nine of 10 clients would recommend BrightStar to a friend. For more information on BrightStar Care please visit brightstarcare.com; to find out more about BrightStar Franchising, visit www.brightstarfranchise.com.

CONTACT: Media Contact: Julianne Kennelly Fishman Public Relations 847-945-1300 jkennelly@fishmanpr.com

Source: BrightStar Care