As wisely noted by Hillary Abrams, “most people wait until there is a crisis to react to the declining health of aging parents, spouses or loved ones. This is a very difficult subject to discuss, so many of us wait to cross that bridge when we come to it.” As we file into our parents homes, or as we play host to them this holiday season, we are often struck with the reality that our parents and loved ones have aged since we saw them last; that perhaps things aren’t as easy as they once were.
What to do when caregiving becomes a post-holiday reality?
The most important thing you as a family member can provide is a proactive and informed set of choices. Many loved ones don’t want to have these discussions, out of the fear that they might be “put away” in a nursing home. Yet, the safety and health of your family are the most important things to keep secure. Set boundaries, and strive to maintain respect as you negotiate life-changing decisions together. Talk openly, and be sensitive to maintain their independence wherever possible. Skilled nursing teams can often provide limited amounts of care for families and loved ones, and sometimes just that little extra oversight is enough to keep our loved ones safely in-place.
Questions in assessing care?
There are a number of questions you should ask yourself this holiday season.
- How safe are your loved ones in the home? Do they lock doors, turn off stoves and other appliances?
- Are they safe while driving?
- Has their personal hygiene or level of cleanliness changed?
- Do they walk differently or avoid stairs
- Are they walking differently or avoiding stairs?
- How often do they leave the house? Do they make excuses about not leaving the home?
If your loved ones are experiencing any of the above, you should contact us for guidance through the caregiving process. Often, there are little adjustments that can be made to a family members routine that require minimal care and oversight, and can keep them aging gracefully at home. You should read further about care options, and best practices. A great place to start is the aforementioned Hillary Abrams’ Aging Parents and Options in Care handbook.