Beginning with Thanksgiving and continuing through New Year’s millions of adult children visit their aging parents. They’ve been talking by phone all year being told everything is fine. But, once they arrive, it is obvious that all is not well.
“The holidays are an ideal time to take an aging parental reality check,” suggests Jesse Slome, director of the American Association for Long Term Care Insurance. “Those who can’t regularly look in on aging family members should use seasonal visits to help aging parents maintain their independence as long as possible.”
Holiday visits are an excellent opportunity to assess the health of a loved one, to address home safety issues and to discuss important planning issues. “Difficult discussions are best started in a face-to-face setting because they are seldom one-shot conversations,” Slome acknowledges.
Some tips when visiting older loved ones:
Check the home environment. Look for unopened mail, especially unpaid bills. Address safety issues such as loose rugs or wires that could result in falls.
Has the parent lost weight. Is there outdated and spoiled food in the refrigerator or pantry?
Write down important information including the license plate of the parent’s car. That way, if it is gone, you’ll have information accessible to share with the police.
Prepare a list of medications and the physician contact information. Record important local resources such as plumbers or electricians should repair issues arise.
Ask if the parent has prepared advanced health directives and know where they keep copies. If they own long term care insurance protection write down the policy number and claim department contact information. ”The number of people calling with questions about policy benefits increases by roughly 15 percent immediately following the holidays,” explains Bill Jones, President of MedAmerica a family of leading long term care insurance carriers. ”Many older Americans eventually need some hands-on assistance and the holidays are often the time of year when families recognize that eventuality has arrived.”
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