With thanksgiving now behind us and a month’s worth of holiday activities to come, this is the time when many adult children get to personally see how well (or not) their parents are doing. Phone calls that profess that “everything is fine with your dad and I” are often rebuked during the face to face visit.
As you prepare for your visit add to your to do list a the following items you will want to investigate during your stay:
- Before you even arrive ask yourself if your parents have had any difficulty tracking the arrangements that have been made. Have they called frequently asking about the itinerary and seeming to forget what was said in a previous call?
- On arriving at your parent’s home take some time to look around and see if the environment is more cluttered or dirty than they would have kept it in the past. Is their mail unopened or paperwork stacked up that hasn’t been attended to?
- When having a snack or getting something to drink look in the cupboards and fridge and determine if they have fresh and nutritious food items; are they past their expiration dates?
- When you go out on the town is their appearance and attire similar to how they would have left the house previously or are they wearing clothes not appropriate for the season or the event?
- When you run errands together let them drive (if they are licensed). Look over the car for any sign of a fender-bender or other damage. Do they appear to know the way around the neighborhood and familiar routes; do they seem tense or anxious driving?
- As a meal is being prepared in the kitchen does the preparer seem distracted; is the stove left burning and unattended; do they seem to remember how to follow directions?
- As your parents are moving around their house are they able to easily get in and out of their chairs; do they seem to be unsteady on their feet or do you witness any falls?
- When getting together with their neighbors or local friends listen carefully to the conversation; does someone ask your parents how the “heart test turned out” or does someone share how much they miss them at the weekly bridge club.
If you have siblings who are also making plans to visit around the same time, ask them to observe the same things. After you have all made your visits share the information together. While you may need more confirmation from a health care provider or Geriatric Care Manager, you may see indicators from your observations that one or both of your parents is having some memory loss or physical changes that is jeopardizing their safety and increasing the likelihood that they need some additional services.
SYNERGY HomeCare has put together a free book to help families get answers to their most common questions about the needs of their aging loved ones. “Where Do We Begin?” is a comprehensive guide that touches on the topics most every family needs to know about the elder care process.
This guide has a more comprehensive assessment tool that will identify areas of concern and the resources that may be a solution.