According to a Geriatric Care Manager, there are certain things to be aware of when going home to visit Mom and Dad.
- Are the proper medications being taken from the medication dispenser?
- Are there grab bars in the bathroom by the stool and in the shower.
- Are the smoke alarms functioning properly?
- Are there throw rugs out and potentially a tripping hazard?
- Are there any expired medications?
- Look in the fridge and freezer:a. How does it smell?b. Is there any moldy food?c. Is there little or nothing in the fridge and freezer?d. Is there an over-abundance of food in either or both?
Pay close attention to your loved one and notice if they are losing weight, dehydrated, or appear depressed. Are they starting to stack the mail throughout the house for fear of throwing away the wrong thing? Are they staying home more, away from their usual activities? Are you noticing dents in the car that were not there before and your loved one really doesn’t have an explanation for what happened?
Any and all these areas should alert families that it is time for a family meeting. If families can do this sooner rather than later, it may prevent a crisis from happening. All too often it ends up being a crisis before families realize that things are changing.
A family meeting can be arranged by the children or they can reach out to an outside person such as a minister, trusted family friend, or professional caregiver coach or Geriatric Care Manager. The point of a family meeting is to review what they as adult children have seen during their visits to Mom and Dad’s home and what each one views as possible concerns. It is important to have a planned agenda prior to a family meeting, keeping in mind that the meeting is for and about the loved one(s). This will often help families stay on task and not get side tracked with family history issues, etc.
If all agree that there are some issues that need addressing, then it may be time to ‘share the care.’ This is when each person offers to assist with one area: someone could offer to come every other weekend to clean house and do laundry. Another could offer to assist with grocery shopping and preparing meals to put in the freezer and ready for the microwave, perhaps another one could offer assistance with the finances, and another to help with doctor appointments.
The point is to not have one person responsible for all the needs of the loved ones. This is a great help in assisting parents to stay home longer and more safely.
These are all helpful ways that may assist in preventing a crisis and keeping everyone on the same page.