At some point in our lives, many of us will be faced with either caring for someone or needing care ourselves. The importance of starting the dialogue with a parent or a loved one about accepting outside support has been the subject of numerous articles. This support may be in the form of someone mowing the yard, clearing the gutters, cleaning the house, or cooking the meals. Regardless of the level of help needed, it’s a difficult conversation to start because accepting help usually results in a change of lifestyle for the care receiver, and oftentimes for the caregiver, too. This is …
especially true if the care receiver has Alzheimer’s or dementia. It can be frustrating and emotional to watch as a loved one’s health deteriorates and their memory fades.
Don’t wait until a medical crisis takes place to start these conversations. The following are signs to watch for to determine if the time is now:
A dirty or cluttered house: The parent or loved one is no longer able to bend down and pick up a fallen object, so things pile up. Regular household tasks are neglected due to lost mobility or vision or the fear of falling.
Unpaid bills or unopened mail: Ignoring or forgetting to pay the bills or open mail is an indication additional help is needed. This is especially important if your parent wishes to remain in their home for as long as possible.
Food and meal preparation: An empty refrigerator or spoiled food in the refrigerator is another sign to watch for. A diet of boxed, canned or processed foods in place of previous healthy meals or the sudden gain/loss of weight can be a sign it’s getting harder for the parent to manage on their own.
Driving: Is your parent losing their keys? Are they having difficulty driving? Have they been involved in a recent accident or stopped by the police? A conversation about driving should take place long before a parent drives the car, but then can’t remember where they parked it.
Medications: Taking too much or not enough of a drug may cause serious consequences. Also, monitoring the various medications to insure there is not a conflict is equally important.
Although many aging adults don’t want to start the conversations about needing help for fear of losing their independence, having an early and frank discussion is one of the most loving and generous things you can do for your parents or loved one.