The holidays are a great time to gather and celebrate with family. It’s also the time when many of us check in with aging loved ones, some of whom might have started to face challenges in their day to day routine. Check for indications that your loved one is starting to need additional support or assistance.
Signs to watch out for include:
- Changes in personal appearance like soiled clothes, weight loss, or unkempt hair.
- Changes in the home, such as spills left uncleaned, rotted food, or indications of a previous fire like burned pot holders.
- Frailty or imbalance while moving around, needing to hold on to furniture when walking, or difficulty getting out of a chair.
- Signs of injury from falls like bruising or changes in gait.
- Damage or disrepair to a vehicle
- Changes in daily routine, recent ambulance visits, or increased isolation.
It’s emotionally hard to see these changes in a loved one, especially during the holiday season, but it’s an opportunity to discuss care options prior to a major crisis.
These conversations can feel awkward and probing, as few people, seniors included, will admit that they need help.
Especially if your loved one wants to stay at home for as long as possible, it’s important to make sure that there is a plan in place so that they’re getting the care they need.
If you find yourself struggling, here are some tips for getting the conversation started – and keep it going.
Share Your Plans
Finding common ground is a great place to start. Share your wishes with your loved ones and ask for their opinion about your plans. You’ll have an easy segue into asking about their wishes without making them feel defensive.
Don’t Tell Them What to Do
This is one of the most important tips when discussing your loved one’s future. Telling them what you think they need – even if you’re right – will often be met with resistance.
Instead, talk with them about how they have reached a point in their life where they deserve things to be easier. If you are discussing long-term care options, focus on their concerns and how their situation could improve with help.
Ask questions to make sure that you have the necessary information to help. Do you know who their doctor is? What medications are they taking? Are emergency contacts easily accessible?
Be protected – Health Care Directives and Durable Powers of Attorney will make sure that your loved one’s wishes are carried out, even if they lose capacity. An Asset Protection Estate Plan™ will ensure that if they need care, the money will be there. If they don’t have these Estate Planning documents, or they need to be updated, contact an Elder Law attorney to discuss your options.
Include Them in The Decision-Making Process
For many seniors, this is a time of their lives that they don’t feel in control. Give them a say and make sure they are part of the decision-making process. You don’t have to consult them on every detail – they will get overwhelmed with too many options.
Instead, do your homework and narrow down the top 3 choices to get their feedback on. They will feel empowered and will be less likely to refuse the help you are getting them.
Whether you are talking about long-term care at a facility, in-home care, or you just want to be clear on your loved one’s wishes – be patient and supportive. Long-term care requires an ongoing conversation as needs change.
Take Care of Yourself Too
Caregiver burnout is a real concern, particularly with spouses and adult caregiver children. Consult with a professional Aging Life Care Manager if you feel that you are getting overwhelmed so that you get the support you need too.
For help in exploring options and creating a plan to promote independence while protecting assets from long-term care costs, call our office at 509-468-0551 to speak with one of our experienced team members.