Assessing Parents’ Well-Being
When you visit family this year, you may notice some changes in mom and dad’s home and environment. The following is a list of significant changes which may indicate your parents may need additional support such as home care, companion or financial services or assisted living:
- Difficulty keeping up with finances. Observe stacks of unpaid bills or late notices.
- Changes in personal hygiene or housekeeping that indicate parents are having trouble with personal grooming or housework.
- Your parent repeats themselves often in the same conversation, seems confused, highly emotional or exhibits unusual paranoia. This could be caused by medications or other more serious cognitive issues.
- Excessive shopping through TV or online outlets, or an unusual interest in online sweepstakes that require their personal information, phone numbers, addresses, social security or banking information.
- Your parent is extremely isolated due to loss of a spouse or loss of personal mobility.
- Numerous safety concerns in the home, such as heat, air conditioning, leaks, crumbling plaster, trip and fall hazards, steep stairways, loose carpeting and outdated electrical.
- Health concerns: disorganized medications, spoiled food in the home, lack of healthy food items, infestations or mold
Even when concerns about your parents’ lifestyle are minor, you can still provide support during the holidays in a number of ways such as:
- Give useful gifts such as gift certificates for needed services such as home delivery for groceries, transportation, housekeeping, laundry pick up, exterminators or lawn service.
- Purchase a few hours of time from a downsizing expert or professional organizer to help with clutter and disorganization.
- Help mom decide which items may make great holiday gifts for children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews. If she has been holding on to jewelry, china or collectables, this may be the year she can enjoy gifting them to others. Help her pack and ship items. Be sure to include a note with each that describes origin or significance of the item within the family.
- Research the value of family heirlooms online
- Purchase photo digitizing services that allow parents manage old photographs, slides or movie reels and share them with the entire family.
Most importantly, take this time to improve communications. Taking the time to call or visit more often isn’t always possible, but try your best. Frequent communication promotes honest conversation and can help you adjust to the many changes that take place as our parents grow older.