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AARP: Holidays a Good Time to Check on Mom and Dad

Dad on a bench. Holidays are a good time to check on elderly loved ones.
Dad on a bench. Holidays are a good time to check on elderly loved ones.
December 17, 2012

RICHMOND, Va. - Christmas and the New Year are just a few days away, and family visits during the holidays can be a great time to make sure mom and dad, or any other older relatives, are doing well enough on their own. AARP Virginia associate state director James Brooks says there are four areas to keep in mind when making a visit to an elderly family member: their home, their ability to drive, their health and their finances.

Brooks says it's important to check for any physical changes.

"Have they lost weight? Do they appear to have had a recent fall or a bruise? Do you see that they're having trouble walking or navigating the stairs? Do they have trouble hearing or seeing?"

Brooks says you should check for safety issues in the home, look for dings and dents in their car and observe them driving. Also, see if they remember to take their medications, and make sure bills aren't piling up.

It can often be difficult for adult children to have conversations with parents or older relatives about their finances. But Brooks says there are ways to do it without having to ask things such as, "How much money do you have in the bank?"

"You can ask them if they are having any challenges keeping up to date with their bills. Another thing you can do is, you can look around and see if you can see evidence that they might have difficulty. For example, is their a stack of mail in the corner that's just been stacking up unopened?"

AARP has some excellent tips online for doing all these things in a caring and non-threatening way. there are 42 million family caregivers in the U.S., AARP says, and if you aren't among them now, you either have been or will be.

The holidays can be a great time to lovingly check on the welfare of older relatives. If you discover that someone can use some help, you can find local resources at

Monique Coppola, Public News Service - VA