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Thanksgiving: A Great Time to Check in on the Needs of Aging Parents

Visiting Aging Parent At ThanksgivingGathering around the table for Thanksgiving dinner is one of the most cherished memories for most families. The aroma of delicious food, catching up with relatives, and the promise of pumpkin pie engage all of the senses.

But, children of older adults should also keep their senses sharp when noticing how their parents might be coping as they age. Perhaps, they seem a little different since the last time you were together, a little forgetful or unkempt? Maybe their home is in disarray?

“Thanksgiving is a great time to get together with family and if you haven’t seen your parents for a while you may notice some larger, more obvious changes,” advises Toby Ehrlich, LSSW, ACSW, CALA, Director of Corporate Marketing at the Oscar and Ella Wilf Campus for Senior Living in Somerset, NJ.

Ehrlich suggests that children and caregivers take a close look at some of the following signs that could indicate that their parent(s) might need additional help to continue living at home or that they should consider assisted living.

  • What is the condition of their house?
  • How are Mom and Dad dressed? Are they well-groomed?
  • Do you notice any unusual smells or odors?
  •  Check out their refrigerator to ensure it is not bare or full of spoiled food, but that it is stocked with essentials.
  • Check the car. Are there any new dents or scratches?
  • How is their driving during the day and night?
  • Are they frequently forgetting familiar names, faces, places?
  • Can Mom and Dad walk stairs easily?
  • Have they fallen? Do you see any bruises?
  • Can they get in and out of a chair easily and safely?
  • Do you think they are taking their medication properly?

If any of these signs raise red flags, Ehrlich believes that it is smart not to jump to conclusions but to carefully assess the situation.

“When you see that things are not going well or have changed, don’t say anything right away at the Thanksgiving table because this day should be a happy occasion, you don’t want to embarrass your mom or dad or make them feel like you are trying to take their independence away,” says Ehrlich.

“Instead, hold off until after the holidays and be in touch with your family members to discuss what is going on and all of you can figure a plan and time to discuss with your parent(s) what you have noticed happening,” she adds.

“If you think they might be resistant, take small baby steps to approach the subject,” says Ehrlich. “Don’t try and handle it all at once because it can be too much for them to absorb.”

The Oscar and Ella Wilf Campus for Senior Living is comprised of Stein Assisted Living with the Jaffa Gate Memory Care Neighborhood, Stein Hospice, Wilentz Senior Residence, Wilf Transport, and The Foundation at the Wilf Campus. For more information, contact us at (732) 568-1155, [email protected] or visit us at

-By Michelle Daino

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