Holidays a wake-up call for adult children: Other Voices

Traveling home for the holidays is a tradition. Yet when families gather, it can sometimes turn into a wake-up call about the failing health of a senior member. If a beloved parent is struggling with his or her independence, it often comes to light during a family visit.

Knowing when to step in and arrange assistance can be a difficult decision for adult children. The anxiety can be overwhelming, particularly for those who live out of the area.

The following are some indicators that help may be needed.

• Your loved one either stops calling you or begins to call several times a day.

• Mail is unopened.

• Unpaid bills are stacking up.

• Laundry is undone and clothes aren’t as neat as usual.

• Grooming standards have changed.

• It appears medication may not be taken regularly or correctly.

• The refrigerator is either empty or full of spoiled food.

• Level of participation has changed with regard to hobbies, going to church or being social.

• There have been recent falls and/or noticeable bruising.

• There are noticeable changes in behavior or personality.

• There are signs of memory loss or confusion.

If signs indicate that your loved one may need help, the next step is to determine what kind of support will provide safety without undercutting independence and dignity.

A good start in assessing the needs and creating a plan of care could be partnering with a geriatric care manager, who often has a background in nursing or social work. A geriatric care manager can help establish a plan, adjust it as needed and identify available resources.

A geriatric care manager can arrange for the following support services.

• Home care.

• Money management and bill paying.

• Transportation.

• Housekeeping.

• Meal delivery.

• Handyman.

• Scheduling and coordinating medical and dental appointments.

• Transporting and accompanying clients to health-care appointments.

• Facilitating communication with health-care professionals.

• Helping clients comply with medications and recommendations.

Having a knowledgeable ally when caring for an aging parent can keep the entire family from becoming overwhelmed. A geriatric care manager can help aging family members stay in their homes comfortably and safely for a longer period of time. And, who doesn’t want to be able to be home for the holidays?

Stephne Lencioni, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with more than 25 years’ experience in the field of elder care and care management, recently established a new care management program at Pathways Home Health, Hospice & Private Duty Hospice Foundation. For more information, call (888) 600-2273.

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