Noticing Changes in Elderly Family Members (Part 2)
Two weeks ago (1/4/16 post) I was pointing out that while the holiday season is a time when we reconnect with family who we may not have seen for some time, health and behavior changes in the elderly may also become more noticeable.
So what can or should you be doing? A physical and neurological exam should identify any medical issues. A Geriatric Care Manager (GCM) can help assess the options available that will allow your loved one to continue to live a full, fruitful and safe life. Suggestions may include a home health aide, adult day care, and personal organizer to help with money management.
If your loved one can no longer live alone, possible alternative living arrangements include another family member’s home, assisted living, senior housing or nursing home. Each choice has pros and cons and expense is often an issue. Planning should be done as early as possible to determine what government benefits can be tapped to help pay the cost, such as Medicare, Medicaid and Veteran’s benefits.
Because the family is together once again, the holidays are a good time to begin discussing these difficult decisions. For example, if one child lives nearby an aging parent and sees the decline on a daily or weekly basis, and the other child does not, there is often a tendency for that second child to downplay or minimize the decline, often basing his/her opinion on phone calls with the parent. But seeing the parent and visiting their home can alter that perception.
Remember, there are resources available to you. All you need to do is find them or consult with someone knowledgeable, such as an elder care attorney, who can help point you in the right direction. But, don’t put it off till next year. By that time you may be dealing with a full blown crisis.