The holidays are upon us and it’s time to pack up your bags, lug the children & take a trip down memory lane to travel to your parent’s home! While this time of year is heart-warming, it also brings about reflection and we tend to put things into perspective. Maybe we didn’t notice that mom can no longer take care of herself. Maybe today she is struggling to keep up with her appearance, hasn’t bathed or brushed her teeth and her lights aren’t working in all of the rooms. Did you see the scorched pots and pans on the counter? Sometimes these are signs of neglect, depression or dementia. Pay close attention to her habits while you are spending time with her in the next few weeks.
We all tend to forget things here and there but when you notice a difference in your parent’s memory loss, it could be time to take action. Misplacing your glasses or forgetting to go to the doctor are common declines in memory, however, it’s when words are forgotten when speaking or directions are hard to comprehend that changes are occurring. Sometimes this goes hand in hand with safety. Do your parents feel safe in their home? Do you feel they are safe in their home? Have they fallen recently? Are they taking the right medication? Ask them. Defense is typically a normal response, but take the time to watch and listen and learn while you are reliving your childhood memories in your 16-year old bedroom.
Another challenge for parents is driving. We work so hard to become “adults” and getting our license was the first real step. To take that away from someone – to steal their independence and freedom – can make for a difficult conversation but a necessary one. Sometimes it’s best to get a doctor involved, have an eye or hearing test and make sure they (and everyone else) is safe on the road. Are your parents able to get around in other ways? Do they have difficulty walking? Are they reluctant to go certain distances? Issues like joint pain or weakness in their muscles could be causing disabilities as well.
Have your parents lost weight? Are they eating? Can they cook? Sometimes weight loss indicates something more is wrong. Malnutrition, depression, dementia or cancer are all potential causes. Watch as your parents eat over the holidays. Maybe they really aren’t hungry or maybe there is something else going on.
TAKE ACTION. Share your thoughts with your parents. Encourage medical check-ups. Address issues, particularly safety. Call the doctor for guidance. Speak to an Elder Care Attorney. Know their rights. Know your rights. Consider home services. And know, sometimes a parent won’t admit they are in need of help. Sometimes this is the hardest conversation to have with a reluctant elder who doesn’t want to lose all that they feel they have worked for. Just note that their health and well-being is in your best interest and force through the emotional difficulty of helping them regain their lives.
We’re the Kabb Law Firm and we are your advocates. Visit us today at www.kabblaw.com