I had two parents that were living at home, but my siblings and I worried for their safety. We weren’t as worried about falls in the home, but were more concerned over fraud after a predatory home repair company got them to sign an agreement for a gutter repair to the tune of $5,200. We also didn’t think they were safe on the road anymore given the amount of dents and dings that were appearing on their cars.
What I recognize now is that kids think “safety” and our parents think more in terms of quality of life. As their health might be failing, the last thing they want to give up are those things they can control.
Some of the key indicators to be watchful for include:
- Weight gain or weight loss because they forget to eat, or can’t make healthy meals and maybe eating out more.
- A change in their hygiene or dressing habits. My parents started wearing the same clothes day after day which was a change in their usual habits.
- Withdrawing from their regular activities and connections with friends and family.
- Missed appointments.
- Unpaid bills and services being cut-off.
- Mess and clutter in a home that used to be spotless.
Several of the issues might come down to your parent having trouble managing their medications. Are they taking them properly, if at all? In our area, there is a pharmacy that packages medication in packets that come on a roll and include the date and time they should be taken. It’s easy to identify when a packet is skipped.
Will they accept help in the home? Some home care assistance companies have individuals that can help with cooking, light housekeeping, and even laundry. When my parents refused, I tried to step in and fill all these gaps. Looking back, while I did it out of love and respect, I also in some ways enabled them to live very unsafely longer.
Life Care Managers are also helpful when it comes to getting on top of a medical concern and finding good resources to address failing health issues.
Have they given up the car keys and don’t want to ask for help getting rides? Several home care agencies have driving employees that can help get mom or dad to the grocery, visit a museum, or even just get a ride to their bridge group if no one is able to give them a ride.
When it comes to concerns with managing money, Daily Money Managers can help protect against fraud and scams, and make sure bills are getting paid on time.
For many, there is a negative reaction to moving into a life care community. Have you scheduled appointments and gone to visit ones near their home so they can see that there are many independent and vibrant options? The first step can be to select an option of their choosing. For several clients, I let them know that if they should ever need rehabilitation or skilled nursing, these communities have better options than the open bed you will find after an emergency visit to the hospital. It’s better to get on the wait list at a community you like, but NEVER need to use. You can get your deposit back if you never permanently move in.
For those that are living alone, you can also find services for wearable devices that either call for help if the wearer falls (it can sense a fall and call the user from the pendant to ask how they are doing), or that has a “push-button” option to call for help.
There are MANY single older adults living at home well. I watch as my neighbor continues to shovel her snow, cut her grass, and leave for the gym every morning around 7 AM.
At the end of the day, I hope you will consider that meaning and purpose are very important to the livelihood of your loved ones. If they want to stay at home, how might they get the help they need to be able to enjoy it?
My parents would NEVER accept outside help which unfortunately limited their options. However, that was the choice they made and we did our best to fulfill their wishes. You will find pages and pages in this blog of examples of how poorly that went for us. I wish your family a better fate. Reflected.