Home for the Holidays? Check in With Aging Loved Ones.
With busy schedules and miles between, when is the last time your entire family was under the same roof? When is the next time it will happen again
If your family is like many American families, December brings holidays, and with those holidays, unmatched family togetherness. Aside from the traditions of foods and activities that your family already has, the holidays are a good time to engage in that other American tradition: checking in with your aging loved ones.
AARP released a list of tips and questions to simplify observing how Mom and Dad are doing. According to Caregiving in the U.S., a 2009 comprehensive report from the National Alliance on Caregiving and AARP, one in five Americans, or 43.5 million people, are caregivers for someone over the age of 50. Most caregivers think of themselves as just doing what families do for their loved ones.
In the same spirit, AARP is making it easier for America's caregivers to make sure their older loved ones are doing okay at the holidays with the following tips and questions:
Taking a Look at their Home - How to tell if their home is still appropriate
- Can they still manage the stairs, or would a chair lift or a home on one level be better
- Are you concerned that their home may have safety hazards, such as dark stairs, loose rugs, clutter, or fire hazards? Would brighter lighting and fewer tripping hazards help? The checklists at this site can help: www.aarp.org/homedesign.
- Is there a bath on the ground floor and a room that could become a bedroom if necessary
- Could simple modifications to their home, like easier to use handles and switches, pull out cabinet shelves, a comfort height toilet or walk-in shower make it more convenient
Getting Around - How to gauge their driving safety and transportation options
- If they are still driving, ride with them and observe their driving. Are they having close calls? Are there dents or dings on the car or garage? Do they drive too slow or miss signs or signals? Do they have difficulties at intersections? Have they gotten warnings or tickets These are a few signs that it might be time to talk about limiting driving or hanging up the keys. For help talking about driving try this: www.aarp.org/weneedtotalk.
- Look around the community or make a note to research their alternative transportation options for shopping, medical visits, religious services and visits with family and friends if they hang up the keys.
Health - A few key things to check
- If you don't already know about their health problems and current medications, take this time to ask. Are their prescriptions current
- Has their doctor or pharmacist reviewed all of their medications for side effects and potentially dangerous interactions or effect on driving? Their pharmacist can be a great resource. www.aarp.org/relationships/caregiving/info-02-2009/ginzler_wise_use.html.
- Are they having any problems taking their medications? Do they always remember which medications to take and when? Would a pill organizer be helpful
- Make sure that they know that it is Medicare open enrollment season until December 31 and see if they need to update their coverage. See if they have any questions about Medicare or Medicaid or changes under the new health care law. Find help at www.aarp.org/medicare.
- See if they could use help with filling out forms, such as insurance claims.
Finances - How to get ready to help
- Is all of their financial information in one place and do you know where it is so you can access it in an emergency
- Check on the condition of their mail. Are bills stacking up? Are there late notices
- Do they have any bills they can't pay
And with the New Year, it could be wise to take this opportunity to make a resolution to plan for your own future. Here's help: www.aarp.org/decide Please visit www.aarp.org/caregiving for more information on caring for your aging parents.