It’s that time of the year. People travel to spend the holidays with their loved ones. Sometimes, it may be the only time we see our family. People with aging parents can be surprised at the decreased abilities of older adults. Age-related decline happens rapidly. Often the older adult may feel the need to cover up any issues that they are experiencing. Telephone calls are treasured, but they don’t give you the opportunity to have objective information regarding the wellbeing of your parents. Family visits are a time to evaluate the older adult’s condition. These observations should be done tactfully and in a nonjudgmental manner. No one wants to put on the defensive. Older adults may want to downplay and minimize any difficulties that they may be experiencing.

Pay close attention to any changes in their environment, their behaviors, and any physical clues that indicate that they may be in need of assistance or intervention.

Physical Health
Do they look like they have lost weight? This may indicate an illness, dementia or depression. Have there been any changes in their medication? Are any medications expired? Are they taking them correctly? Monitor for any gait changes. Are they reluctant to walk? Fear of falling is common among older adults. Do you notice any injuries, such as bruises or cuts?

Behavior
The Center for Disease Control says that it is likely that 11.5 % of older adults experience depression. Monitor for signs such as a change in sleep patterns, loss of interest in activities that they have enjoyed, or issues with personal hygiene. Do they seem to be sad or angry? Does one of your parents seem to be more forgetful? Are they repeating the same stories? The door to financial exploitation can open when new organizations or friends take a new prominence in older adult’s life, especially when they are asked donations or loans.

Environment
Are there any changes in how your parents maintain their home? Is there more clutter than you remember? Look into the kitchen. Sneak a peek into their refrigerator. Do you see food that is spoiled or past the expiration date? Are there any small repairs, such as changing a light bulb that is going undone? Is the laundry hamper overflowing? Are they opening their mail? Check the car to see if there are any new dings or scratches. How does the yard look?

Next Steps
Have you observed enough signals of decline to feel worried? What should you do? First, take care of any immediate safety hazards. It may feel like the holidays are not the right time, but you will soon need to have an honest, respectful conversation with your older loved one. Topics would include your concerns, but also take the time to hear the older adult’s perspective. Suggest that they make an appointment with their physician. If they have seen their doctor recently, ask them how the visit went. What natural supports are available to them? Are there any local family members? What community resources are there to provide support? Do they need help with home repairs or help with organizing bills? Would they benefit from a home health provider to set up their medications in a med minder? How can you make sure that your parents get the help that they need? Three to six million Americans are distance caregivers who provide care for a family member that resides an average of 450 miles away. [National Alliance for Caregiving & AARP.Apr 17, 2019). These caregivers experience worry and anxiety as they question themselves with “Have I done enough? What if something goes wrong, or my parents go into a deeper decline? These are the sort of questions that can keep people awake at night. For many, the resolution lies in hiring an experienced care manager.

A care manager is savvy about community resources. If a Care Manager doesn’t know the resources, they make it a priority to research options and connect with new resources to review their level of care. The care manager can coordinate resources and monitor to make sure that your parent’s needs are being met. These professionals can stay on top of medical issues and home repair. It’s reassuring to know that someone is making sure that your parents enjoy the highest degree of independence and life satisfaction possible.

arrangeCARE Care Managers are among the most experienced in the Central Texas area. Each of our Care Managers brings over 25 years of experience in the role. You and your loved one will benefit from over 75 years’ worth of compassionate, knowledgeable services, focused on older adults, and persons with disabilities. Give us a call at 512-814-3228. We are here for you!