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December 21, 2018

Tough conversations at the holidays can lead to personal care decisions

“Oh, there’s no place like home for the holidays,

Cause no matter how far away you roam,

If you want to be happy in a million ways,

For the holidays you can’t beat home sweet home!”*

Most of us would agree with this sentiment so warmly expressed by Pennsylvania native son and crooner Perry Como. At home, surrounded by loved ones—even the sibling you fought with when you were 10—is where we want to be during the holiday season.

As family members spend more time together over the holidays—some making their annual visits—that’s when they notice changes in each other. Abby has gotten taller, Joe has gained weight, Kathy has lost weight, and Bob’s hair has begun to gray. And Mom and Dad? They’re doing OK, but they are having difficulty with some everyday tasks. Dad, in particular, seems quiet and not as engaged as he once was.

This is why delicate talks with Mom or Dad often begin around the holiday season. Topics we would rather ignore rise to the surface and, at some point, must be addressed. And we strongly recommend the sooner the better for the benefit of a parent’s personal care, health and safety.

Sensitivity and honesty are key to communicating with senior parents

These conversations aren’t easy but are necessary to help your parents plan their future. You may find comfort in knowing your family is one of thousands embarking on this journey. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 70 percent of Americans over 65 will eventually require long-term care services.

If possible, involve the whole family (all siblings) at the outset to discuss concerns and how and when to talk with Mom or Dad. Here are a few quick tips taken from our guide, “Talking About Touchy Topics With Your Aging Parents.” For more in-depth information, download the guide here or get one at the Country Meadows location nearest you.

Do: Prepare by researching options; begin discussions early; be supportive of your parents; listen to their concerns; explore solutions together.

Don’t: Tell your parents what to do; start the conversation with your decision made; speak in vague, general terms; talk when either of you is already stressed.

In reviewing how your parents are doing, geriatrician Leslie Kernisian, MD suggests a look at their activities of daily living. These are areas where difficulties can indicate a need for personal care assistance: dressing, eating, washing, using the bathroom and walking/general mobility.

She also recommends checking on the current status of their housekeeping, basic home maintenance, preparing meals, shopping for groceries and transportation.

Here are questions that you can ask yourself to help determine how your parents are doing:

  • Home: Are they maneuvering stairs safely? Does their house have safety or fire hazards, like loose rugs, excessive clutter or poor lighting?
  • Driving: Do they drive safely? Have they had close calls or been driving too slowly? Have they been denting the car or getting tickets or warnings?
  • Health: Do they have new physical complaints? Are they eating well? Is their personal hygiene acceptable? Do they take medications as directed?
  • Finances: Are they paying their bills on time? Can they manage their checkbook?

Personal care and other options, depending on your situation

Your parents’ solution could be to just make physical changes to their home to permit greater accessibility. Maybe a part-time in-home caregiver or housekeeper is needed. Or perhaps it’s time to talk about a retirement community.

If you’re thinking of choosing a retirement community, we would like to meet with you here at Country Meadows Retirement Communities. We offer a full range of services and activities and  personalized senior living at our retirement communities in Pennsylvania and our Maryland retirement community. All specialize in personal care (or assisted living) and additional levels of senior-focused services. Please contact us to request information or schedule a visit.

 

* Written by Al Stillman and Robert Allen

Country Meadows

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