I was talking to an elder care coach that I know by the name of Thomas P. Callahan, and we started talking about our holiday plans. One interesting item that came up was how busy he tends to get right after the holidays. During this time of year, children return home to visit their elderly parents and become fully aware of how their parents have deteriorated over the course of the year.
If you are visiting home for the first time in a while, here are some warning signs that you should look out for if you are concerned about a loved one:
- If they are hoarding items (Such as numerous cereal boxes or sugar packets);
- If they have many unpaid bills;
- If they are becoming paranoid;
- If they are having memory issues (do they repeat stories or fail to notice items right in front of them);
- If they have substantial weight loss or weight gain;
- If they are eating out a lot;
- If they are relying on untrustworthy companions (are they isolated from their normal friends and neighbors);
- If their car starts to have more dings and dents;
- If the laundry is not being cleaned;
- If they are sleeping on the couch or recliner instead of the bed; or
- If they are watching much more television than they used to.
According to Tom, these traits often go unnoticed because people view their parents as always capable…after all, they are your parents. They are the people you turned to as a child if you fell down.
It is important not to get frustrated when these things start to happen. That leads to unnecessary arguments. If you are seeing your parents exhibiting these traits, you must understand that your parents may not understand what is happening to them.
There are many creative ways to help, but letting things go on as they are is NOT a resolution. As a starting point, you will want to speak with an elder care coach. You will also want to make sure that you know where your parents Wills, Powers of Attorney and Advanced Health Care Directives are located. If they do not have any, you will want to encourage them to meet with an estate planning attorney before they are no longer have the ability to prepare such documents.