When Gratitude Turns to Concern


More than 40 million Americans are expected to take to the roadways, railways and airways as they head home for the Thanksgiving holiday. This time-honored tradition, one of the few occasions when multiple generations gather under one roof, is often the first time that adult children may observe unmistakable signs of physical or cognitive decline in aging loved ones.

If you notice the following changes in routine household management and self-care, all may not be well with mom and dad.

  • Is the mail piled up or unopened?

  • Are there notices from creditors?

  • Are there carpet stains from dropping things?

  • Is there urine order in the house?

  • Were mom's family recipes burned or not cooked enough?

  • Is there insufficient food in the pantry or decaying food in the refrigerator?

  • Are the pets being cared for?

  • Is the home being maintained as usual?

  • Does the car have signs of damage?

  • Are there changes in personality, hygiene, or ability to engage in dinner conversation?

If you observe any of the above changes in behavior, talk with your parents about their care needs in a way that enables them to identify the problem and come up with potential solutions. If the decline is physical, not cognitive, it is critical that your parents are the ones making the decision to seek help.

Above all, let compassion be your guide as you initiate these difficult conversations.

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