Is home still a safe place for your aging parents?
While no list can be exhaustive, here are several helpful cues to suggest a change in your parents’ living arrangements may be in order:
- Activities of Daily Living (“ADLs”) – Trouble managing the six ADLs, such as eating, bathing, dressing, toileting, walking and continence. If any one of these tasks proves overwhelming, professional help is likely needed.
- Emotional Indicators – Irritability later in the day, aggression, paranoia, and confusion causing disorientation and fear. Watch for signs of depression.
- Behavioral Indicators – Wandering, disengaging with social ties or activities, trouble staying on top of bills, difficulty tracking and taking medications, lots of uneaten or expired food in the fridge, and inability to keep up with routine home maintenance and cleaning.
- Health Signs – Significant weight loss or gain, prolonged or slow recovery from a common cold, cognitive impairment impacting self-care, driving ability, or memory, and evidence of injury that could be a result of poor balance, weakness, forgetfulness, or lack of awareness.
- The Intangibles – Caregivers often lose sight of the impact caregiving is having on their own health. If the need for care is beyond the family’s physical or emotional ability, or surpasses their medical knowledge, it may be time to seek professional assistance.
With your parents’ permission, a consultation with their doctor(s) can be a valuable way to gain insight into the state of their health and share your concerns.
A geriatric care manager can also be an exceptional resource to obtain a professional viewpoint. They can perform a home assessment to determine the safety of the current living situation. Before hiring a geriatric care manager, be sure he or she is certified by one of three organizations: the National Association of Social Workers, the National Academy of Certified Care Managers, or the Commission for Case Managers. Also look for membership in the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers. A flat fee is usually charged for the home assessment and varies by geographic location and provider.
You may find the following links useful as you navigate these difficult waters: