Holiday Check-In: Time for a Visiting Doctor?

With the holidays upon on us, many people will be visiting their aging parents and relatives. It’s the perfect time to check in and see how they are REALLY doing and to pick up on any changes in their well-being.  It can be overwhelming and stressful to see our loved one aging but planning ahead and knowing what signs to look for will help lessen the anxiety.

During this year’s holiday gatherings, be sure to look for the following indications that a loved one may be declining and is in need of extra help.

Changes in the Home Environment

Pay attention to your loved one’s surroundings. Look through the refrigerator and kitchen cabinets to see if there are rotten leftovers or expired food. Is the garbage overflowing or are there piles of dirty laundry on the floor?  Is the living space clean or is there more clutter than there used to be?  Scorched cookware could indicate that food was forgotten on the stove. Looking through the mail gives you clues about whether your parents are staying on top of daily tasks. Look for unopened mail, late payment notices, charitable donations.  Check for neglect outside the house as well.

Physical Well-Being

One of the most obvious signs of ill health is weight loss.  Possible causes could include cancer, dementia or depression.  Your parent may have lower energy levels or fatigue which can make it challenging to food shop and prepare meals. Pay close attention to their physical mobility, a reluctance to walk, changes in gait, unsteadiness on their feet.  Personal hygiene or lack thereof and personal cleanliness is also an indicator.  Failing to take medications regularly or misusing prescriptions is another red flag.

Cognitive Changes

If your loved one is displaying signs of forgetfulness out of the ordinary, take note.  Frequent memory lapses could indicate the onset of dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease.  Confusion, getting lost while driving or walking to familiar places, difficulty reading a book or following a conversation are also warning signs that should not be ignored.

Medical Care

Another area to assess is whether your loved one can still get to the doctor’s office without great difficulty in order to receive proper medical care. Consider utilizing a house call physician if your loved one:

  • Has difficulty getting to the doctor
  • Has multiple chronic conditions
  • Has frequent emergency room visits
  • Take multiple medications

VNA Health Group offers home-based primary care through their Visiting Physician Services Division.  Their sole mission is to enable patients to stay at home as they age by providing quality, compassionate medical care in the comfort of home. We realize the stress and challenge of transporting a frail loved one to the doctor can aggravate an already fragile physical or mental condition. With a visiting doctor, both patient and caregiver can have peace of mind knowing quality medical care is just a phone call away.

In addition to physical exams, in-home diagnostic tests such as EKGs, X-Rays and bloodwork can all be done in the home. Visiting Physician also handles wound care, medication management, as well as diabetic, cardiac and respiratory assessments.  Other in-home services can also be arranged including dental, podiatry, audiology, optometry, physical therapy and more.  If your loved one needs a hospital bed or wheel chair, Visiting Physician can place the order.  In addition, Telehealth visits are available which help to provide care in between in-person visits.

House calls provide a major relief for family members and caregivers, whose burden is lessened when they no longer need to arrange transportation for routine checkups and tests, or worry about how they are going to get a sick loved one out of the house safely.

As you enjoy gathering with your parents and relatives this holiday season, take the time to evaluate their well-being and the level of help they may need in order to continue thriving and aging gracefully. 

Visiting Physician Services provides services in eight New Jersey counties and accepts Medicare, Horizon, Braven, Aetna, Amerigroup and WellCare.  For more information, please call 732-571-1000, email us at or visit


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