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How can I figure out if my loved ones are still OK living on their own?

By Peter DiMaria

Home Helpers Home Care Enfield Press Article* 

One of the great things about the holiday season is the quality time we get to spend with family members, whether they live near or far. Getting together in the spirit of the holidays offers an opportunity to cherish old memories, make new ones, and check in on our aging loved ones. Perhaps you haven’t seen or spoken to them in quite some time?

As you reminisce about years past, take a moment to evaluate your parents and other aging loved ones. Do they seem different since you saw them last? Are they remembering events accurately and laughing along with you? Is Mom struggling to get out of her chair?  Does Dad have an angry edge in his voice that just doesn’t seem right? Is your aging loved one neglecting personal hygiene and household cleanliness? Do you notice any weight gain or loss? Are they complaining more than usual? Are they enjoying the same foods and drinks they usually do? How are their finances?

What to consider: elderly loved ones living in their own homes

Getting together in the spirit of the holidays is a great way check in on our aging loved ones and see if they need elder care.

There are so many things to think about when it comes to our aging loved ones’ health and happiness. I’d like to share a few tips for ensuring they are safe, healthy and living well in their homes.

  • Conduct an evaluation. More than likely, you are the one who knows your parents best and will notice quickly if something seems “off” about Mom or Dad. Write a dated note detailing your observations so that if an issue develops, you can track its progression.
  • If you do notice something, start a discussion. Ease into a conversation about what you’re observing by asking in general terms how your loved one is feeling and faring. This will lead to a more open conversation than if you launch in with questions regarding the specific issue that concerns you.
  • Put in a call to your parent’s primary care physician. There might be something going on that Mom or Dad is too embarrassed or ashamed to share. Perhaps there are things that you could be doing to help.
  • Do your research. Take some time to develop a list of options, so that you’re prepared in the event your loved one’s care needs escalate and help is needed. It’s better to be prepared than to scramble at the last minute. Preparedness makes it easier for the senior as well as the family to accept help.

These steps should help you and other family members to understand how much your loved ones are being able to care for themselves. Older Americans belong to a generation that prizes their independence and their capacity of being in charge of their own lives. It is sometimes difficult for them to admit or even realize that they need help.

Do they need elderly care?

If you got to the conclusion that yes, they do need help, you are going to need to start a conversation about it. Everybody should be involved in the process. And it should not be imposed on them. If you try to decide for them, you will probably end up in a confrontation and will hear something like: "I don't need help", "I can take care of my own" or "I have a family".

But it doesn't have to be that way. With a little preparation, you can start a productive dialogue about the future. Here's how.

Article writen by Home Helpers Home Care owner Peter DiMaria, originally published by the Enfield Press.

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