Home for the holidays?

A time for gifts, a time for family sharing, a time to really notice how Mom and Dad are doing. This holiday season, take time to listen, observe, and evaluate.

When you call on the phone, your parents may say everything is going just fine. But if you don’t regularly see your aging parents, it can be hard to know what “fine” really means. The holidays are the perfect time to identify how things really are, and to address if changes need to be made. If it’s been awhile since your last visit, you may find changes in mental and/or emotional status and physical ability.

While you are visiting, consider the following list to help you assess their ability to live independently.

Look for changes in behavior
Questions to consider:

•   Do they frequently repeat themselves?
•   Are they agitated, anxious or depressed?
•   How is their social life?
•   Are they having trouble sleeping?

Look for physical changes
Things to consider:

•   Weight loss can be a sign of illness, depression, or malnourishment.
•   Are they keeping medical appointments?
•   Do you notice any changes in stability or balance?
•   Do they appropriately use safety equipment such as: canes, walkers,
shower/tub bench and bathroom grab bars?
•   Have there been falls in the last six months,
and were these falls reported to their physician?

Look for signs of self-care
Questions to consider:

•   Are they clean? Do they need more help bathing?
•   Are they neatly dressed?
•   Are they drinking more alcohol?
•   Are their prescriptions current?
•   Are they managing medications as directed by their physician?
•   Which over the counter medications and/or supplements are they taking?
•   Do you find expired medications?
•   Are their toenails trimmed?
•   Do you notice any bruises?
•   Are shoes fitting properly and in good repair? (Are they loose and pose a fall risk?
Are heels worn that could cause a balance problem or back pain?)

Look for signs of domestic order
Questions to consider:

•   Are they keeping up with phone messages?
•   Is the kitchen clean and well-stocked with healthy food?
•   Are the oven and microwave clean, and is the kitchen free of burn marks?
•   Are light bulbs working?
•   Is there good lighting?
•   Are smoke detectors working?
•   Is the living space generally clean and safe?
•   Are houseplants dying?
•   Are doors and windows closed and locked?
•   Does the car have new dents?
•   Are windows or doors leaking air?

Look for signs of money management
Questions to consider:

•   Is their check register current and reconciled with the bank statement?
•   Do you notice any payments made to people or organizations
that you are unfamiliar with?
•   Are there any delinquent or unpaid bills lying around?
•   Are they sending checks to any sweepstakes?
•   Are taxes current?
•   Are there un-cashed checks?
•   Is their driver’s license current?
•   Are car insurance and license plates current?

While you’re home it’s also a good idea to either write down important information or make copies of driver’s license, social security number, insurance policies, names of treating physicians, medication list (including dosages and frequencies, pharmacy information), as well as information regarding local home repair organizations.

Gifts that give peace of mind
It may not seem very festive, but taking note of how your elderly loved ones are managing is important. Consider gifts such as: changing the light bulbs and smoke detector batteries. You might also arrange for needed home repairs, or for the installation of safety items such as ramps or grab bars.

Two other gifts that could provide on-going assistance and improve your loved ones quality of life, are:
1)  Hiring transportation services such as The Silver Runner for appointments, special holiday outings, and leisure outings throughout the year.
2)  Hiring a Professional Geriatric Care Manager. Professional Geriatric Care Managers do a thorough assessment, make recommendations, arrange for and monitor the provision of care to ensure that your parents receive the care they may need. They also can identify and assist with hiring a reputable and reliable homecare agency that would provide caregivers to do the “jack-of-all trades” type of things that most people need.  During the holidays, these caregivers can help make the holidays special by assisting your loved one with decorating, baking, and preparing a nice holiday meal. The Professional Geriatric Care Manager can develop specific caregiver tasks to be done on a scheduled basis, coordinate with your parents as well as communicate with you so that you are kept up-to-date. This can help prevent a crisis, and having a local professional who is on-call, will give everyone peace of mind.

Silver Runner
December Events
 Call 505-897-3009 to register!

Miracle on 34th Street
Albuquerque Little Theatre

Date: Sunday, Dec. 7

Time: 10am-2pm

Cost: $80

Register by: Dec. 2

Transportation, snacks and beverages, accompaniment by a Mobility Manager and tickets are included in the fee.

Curator’s Coffee:
Paleontology of
the Panama Canal

New Mexico Museum of History and Science
Gary Morgan, Curator

Date: Wed., Dec. 11

Time: 9am-1pm

Cost: $60

Register by: Dec. 5

Transportation, snacks and beverages, accompaniment by a Mobility Manager and tickets are included in the fee.

Nutcracker Ballet

Kimo Theatre

Date: Sun., Dec. 15

Time: 1pm-5pm

Cost: $80

Register by: Dec. 8

Transportation, snacks and beverages, accompaniment by a Mobility Manager and tickets are included in the fee.

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Geriatric Care Management

2730 San Pedro NE
Suite E
Albuquerque, NM 87110

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