The last blog post we discussed signs to look for in an aging parent over the holidays. Here we are going to talk about what to do next.
There may be areas of concern, specific to your family member. Should this year's holiday visit open your eyes to current and potential problems or negative changes in your parent's physical or emotional state, then it's time to put a plan of action in place.
First, have a heart-to-heart conversation with your elderly loved one about their present circumstances, concerns and the measures they'd like taken to make things better. Introduce the idea of a health assessment appointment with their primary care physician. Would they feel more at ease if a home health aide visited a couple times a week? Maybe they have legal questions and would greatly benefit from an appointment with an attorney. Or they may need help with housecleaning or bill paying.
While you may want to keep things light during the holiday season, do take this opportunity to collect all necessary information now to avoid frustration and confusion in the event of a crisis down the road.
Pay a visit to the local Council on Aging for resources and services available in your parent's community. And get a copy of the local telephone book to take home with you if you live out of town– it will come in handy as you and your loved one create a "go to" list of services over time.
This list should include friends, neighbors, clergy, local professionals and all others who your family member has regular contact with. In fact, if you haven't already, take the time to visit with those friends and neighbors and make sure you have their addresses, telephone numbers and e-mail information and make a point to provide them with your contact information as well.
Prepare a To-Do List
Now is the time to begin compiling a to-do list to be implemented over a period of future visits. Keep records of your elderly parent's medical information. Medical information should include your loved one's health conditions, prescriptions and their doctor's names and contact numbers. A financial list should contain property ownership and debts, income and expenses, and bank account and credit card information. You should also have access to all of your parent(s) vital documents that could include their will, power of attorney, birth certificate, social security number, insurance policies, deed to their home, and driver's license.
And remember to give your loved ones the power and permission to be in control of their own lives – as much as is reasonable. The more systems you have in place the more your loved one will be kept independent and safe in their own home, giving you peace of mind as you return home from your holiday and future visits.