The Caregivers’ Journey

While opening presents this holiday season, you might be in for a disquieting surprise: your beloved parents are slipping.

This is a common time for adult children to discover that, despite short phone calls and visits, parents have been hiding failing memories and health. Welcome to the world of care giving. But don’t panic; you will find lots of support from the one in four adult children who have already joined the ranks.

With some planning, you can offer your parents a gift they weren’t expecting. Sometimes, a little intervention and help from you or a professional are enough to ensure their independence and accustomed lifestyle for a while longer.

So while you’re partying, notice red flags that signal it might be time to step in:

The house is in disarray and there is spoiled food in the fridge.

The mail has piled up and bills have gone unpaid.

Your mom has worn the same dress, or your dad the same shirt, for days.

Your parents have been ignoring long-time friends and activities.

The medicine cabinet is full of expired prescriptions.

Your mom or dad keeps repeating stories, but can’t recall what they did this morning.

Your parent is calling family by the wrong names. (Well, we’ve all been there; this, in itself, isn’t cause for too much alarm.)

Your mom has forgotten old family recipes.

Mom forgot to cook the turkey and it’s still frozen. (Well, maybe this isn’t catastrophic, either. In fact, I nailed my first turkey shut and didn’t remember to look for the nails till everyone had finished eating. We never found them.)

Recognizing the problem is a start. You might offer to help their pay bills, set up medical appointments and drive to them, or hire a maid or professional caregiver. Just don’t let the realization of changes interfere with your holiday fun. This is a great time to make as many new memories as possible.

Sponsored by Right at Home Care & Assistance,

www.rahtemecula.com, (951) 506-9628, loretteoliver@rahtemecula.com; www.rahnc.com, (760) 690-1147, james@rahnc.com. Contact Marsha Kay Seff at mseff@gmail.com.

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