One difficulty that long-distance family caregivers face is knowing how their parents are doing from month to month. When you don’t see your dad in person regularly, the holiday visits can become shocking.
The holidays are here and you’re spending time with your dad for the first time. You’ve noticed his balance is off. He’s napping for longer than he should. His home is cluttered and dirty. He’s not taking care of himself. Holiday visits are the ideal time to have an honest conversation about his future and his need for elder care support.
What Are His Goals?
Start by asking your dad what his goals are as he ages. Does he want to stay in his current home? If so, what changes could be made to heighten safety? Does his bathroom have grab bars for safety? Are his stairs well-lit with sturdy handrails? Is his flooring in good shape or are there torn or curled areas of carpet?
If he has warped wood flooring, it needs to be repaired. Loose tiles need to be fixed. Light bulbs need to be replaced if any are out or flickering.
What Is He Struggling to Do Every Day?
Go over lists of ADLs and IADLs and ask your dad if any of them are getting tougher to manage on his own. Can he safely walk up and down the stairs with a laundry basket or would he like help with laundry? How easy is it for him to vacuum stairs or carry a vacuum to the upstairs bedrooms?
Is he able to play, shop for items, and cook meals every day? Is he having a harder time reading food labels? Does he have a special diet he’s supposed to follow, and if he does, is it challenging for him to prepare the right meals?
Can he pay his bills or is that getting harder as checks become less common and businesses shift to online payments? Is he able to deposit checks or set up automatic payments and deposits?
Does He Take Medications?
Is your dad on prescription medications? If so, it’s time to look at them and find out what the side effects are. If he’s on medication that causes dizziness or sleepiness, he shouldn’t drive. He needs to take it easy until the side effects subside.
Is he taking his medications correctly? If a pill should be taken with a meal, is he doing that or taking it on an empty stomach anyway? If he’s supposed to take his pills in the morning, does he do that?
Does he remember to take them? If not, would a pill organizer with alarms help him? How about a smart speaker or smartphone that’s set up with reminders?
You’ve talked to your dad about the things he can and cannot do on his own. You’ve gone over where he would like to have help. Now’s the time to call an elder care specialist and ask about prices. Answer any questions your dad has and start scheduling elder care visits that support his goal of remaining independent.
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