Helpful Tips for Family Caregivers
Five signs your parents may needs help: It’s easy to know what to do when a parents had a medical crisis: go to the ER. But without the red flags of an emergency, it can be hard to know it there’s a health problem that needs attention. Often, there are subtle signs of trouble brewing. – Have your parents lost weight? Unplanned weight loss may indicate a medical condition, such as depression or cancer. Or vision problems that make cooking difficult. Or dental problems that make chewing painful. – How is there appearance? Are their clothes clean? What about bathing and grooming? Unkempt appearance may signal depression or dementia. – Do they seem safe in their home? Are their signs of falls, such as dents in the walls? Is there a system for making sure pills are taken? Scorched pans in the kitchen? Spoiled food in the refrigerator? – Have they lost interes in their usual activities? Are they withdrawing from friends or dropping hobbies? These could signal pain, depression, or another health issue. – How well are they getting around? Are they steady on their feet? Able to walk without problems? Any difficulty climbing stairs or getting out of a chair? When you have concerns: – talk with your parents. Tell them what you’ve noticed and why you’re concerned. Ask them how you can help, and then LISTEN. – get the doctor involved. If your parents refuse a doctor’s exam, send a note to the doctor outlining what you’ve observed. That way, the doctor can follow up at the next regular appointment. – solve problems together. Explore their preferences for handeling the situation. Consider a family meeting so everyone can share in the discussion. You might also consult an Elder Law Attorney for help identifying possible solutions. –be patient. If you encounter resistance, take a step back. People often need time to think about what has been discussed. Rushing can just build resentment.