Winter is upon us and caregiver stress can be a common addition to the bustle of the holiday season. Children of aging parents may return home to find things aren’t quite the same. Long-distance caregivers may find dramatic changes in their loved one’s health. How can you manage holiday stress and long distance caregiving this season?

Managing stress can be as simple as taking a walk, reading a good book or snuggling with your pet. If you are concerned about an aging relative, the holidays can pose a perfect time to hold a family meeting.

Long-distance caregivers should utilize visits home for the holiday as a time to gauge parent’s health. Some changes may become apparent while others raise a question. There are several signs you can look for that may indicate it’s time to get medical help for your loved one.

Weight loss is one of the most obvious signs of ill health, physically or mentally. An individual may no longer have the skills or energy to prepare meals, or may not be able to read preparation instructions due to the deterioration of vision.

Poor balance is another red flag to look for. Pay close attention to your parent’s moves, and in particular how they walk. A reluctance to walk could be a sign of joint or muscle problems. The risk of falling is a serious issue that increases with age, which is why it is important to take measures of prevention.

Emotional well-being and the home environment are both indications of shifting health. Withdrawal from activities, lack of interest in hobbies and inattention to personal hygiene are signs of depression. A cluttered home and unusual living habits, such as spoiled food in the refrigerator, can also be warning signs.

The holidays are a time to celebrate and enjoy quality time with family, but it is important to take action if you see serious changes in your parent’s health. Making the most of your visit will ensure your loved one continues to live safely and happily.

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