By Donna Mischke

Thanksgiving brings back happy memories of family and great food for me. The first 30 years of my life were spent blissfully at my Nana’s. My grandmother could cook! Seriously, move over Paula Deen because Nana’s pecan pie, homemade biscuits, corn and green beans were the best. I still try to duplicate those green beans. I don’t even like green beans, but Nana’s green beans were special and she was not about to share her recipe. Nana cooked the entire meal by herself and did not allow anyone in the kitchen to help. It was her stage and her show.

Over the years though, it became more and more difficult for Nana to continue this culinary extravaganza. The family was getting bigger and Nana was getting older. It certainly wasn’t easy for Nana to relinquish control, but we knew she could no longer handle all the work herself. We called a family meeting, shared our concerns with Nana and continued to have many more successful Thanksgivings together. I wouldn’t say it was easy, but it had to be done.

Holidays are often the times when we notice that our aging parents or grandparents health may be declining. Family visiting from out of town, interrupted daily routines and overall holiday stress are exhausting on anyone and can be especially hard on seniors. We all want our family visits to be happy, fun times to remember for years to come. But this may also be an appropriate time to pay attention to signs that may indicate your loved one needs help, especially if they live alone.
If you are visiting an elderly loved one’s home observe their behavior and the condition of the home.
• How is the overall cleanliness of their home since your last visit?
• Take note of expired foods in the refrigerator
• Have a friendly conversation with their neighbors

If an elderly loved one is visiting you, take note of any behavior changes since their last visit.
• Do they seem uncomfortable or embarrassed in a room of people?
• Do they get anxious, seem overwhelmed or confused?
• Ask your loved one how they are doing

Overall you know your loved one better than anyone. Go with your gut feeling. Communicate your concerns and ask questions if you feel something is off. Thanksgiving more than any other holiday is a time to be thankful for family. We should all be able to make new memories and reminisce about the past ones we cherish. It is a time to bring the family together and enjoy a wonderful meal. It can also be a valuable time to start looking for changes in our elderly loved ones and start discussions on their future health and wellbeing.

Often, the conversations about the eventual need for care will not happen until a crisis occurs. Evaluating your loved one’s care needs now and starting a dialogue will greatly reduce stress and tension down the road. Concierge Care Advisors help families navigate through the complexities of elder care at all levels. Our certified and trained Senior Care Advisors are here to help you and your family with those tough decisions or questions you may have regarding the quality of life for your loved one.

And about those green beans, I found out a couple of years ago that Nana put bacon grease and sugar in them. I suppose that may be why I thought they were so good. I still haven’t gotten the right ratios down, but maybe one day.