Home for the Holidays!
We like to “Go Home” for the holidays. Each family has its own traditions and celebrations, and it often means we spend time with our aging parents. But what if you arrive and find that home is not as you remembered? I don’t mean that your aging parent has repainted the house or bought a new sofa. What if you see some changes in their behavior that are concerning? Or signs that they may not be keeping up the home as they once did.
You could choose to ignore some of the warning signs or you could try to take “inventory” of what you are seeing. You could choose to be proactive and try to assess the situation as objectively as possible, to try to determine if there is a serious problem that needs to be addressed.
So just what should you be checking when visiting your parent during the Holidays? At Pathways for Aging, we recommend that you begin by checking for signs of:
- Impaired Driving – how they drive or any recent history of accidents
- Nutrition – are they eating balanced meals & drinking enough liquids, significant changes in weight
- Balance – evidence of recent falls, difficulty walking or getting out of a chair or bed
- Memory Impairment – increased forgetfulness, especially of recent events oractivities, or confusion
- Grooming – signs of poor hygiene, stained clothing, body odor
- Wellness – taking medications as prescribed, check medication bottles, keeping regular appointments with their primary physician
- Finances – signs of unopened bills, multiple mailings soliciting donations or thank you letters, or letters from creditors
- Home maintenance – changes in housekeeping routines – piles of clutter or grime, items in need of repair, poor maintenance of yard & landscaping
- Emotions – unstable mood, signs of depression or anxiety, alcohol abuse
What if you do find several areas of concern? What if you don’t? It’s never too early to start the difficult conversation with your aging parents about what they want, if living alone becomes a problem. Planning ahead is certainly preferable to being forced to react to a crisis, and it takes some of the burden off of you. However, these discussions are often difficult for children to have with their parents, and you may want to call on the help of a geriatric care professional.
Professional geriatric care managers/aging life care specialists, offer in-home objective assessments and can guide you with recommendations and resources. The Geriatric Care Managers at Pathways for Aging are trained professionals who can provide you with an independent evaluation and provide support and guidance as you and your aging parent navigate the challenges of aging.