¨ Change in weight
¨ Change in short term memory
¨ Change in usual routine
¨ Change is speech and/or ambulation
¨ Bills not being paid
¨ Entering contests
¨ Refusing to go with friends on outings or going to church
¨ Refusing any suggestions as well as agreeing to everything without giving consideration to consequences
¨ Mood swings, getting angry quickly
¨ Refusing to see medical providers
¨ Inability to take care of activities of daily living: cooking, dressing, bathing, housekeeping to name a few.
Geriatric care managers often receive calls from adult children of aging parents that ask the question, “I’ll be seeing my aging parents this Holiday and I have some concerns about their mental status or their ability to live independently.” “What should I ask or how do I help without taking away their autonomy?”
The following with be helpful in your conversation and observation of your parents:
If you are concerned about their needs, say so. State this in an “I” message. Example, “I am concerned about your diet, you seem to be losing weight.” Or “I noticed that you call me often and forget we have just talked, are you concerned about your memory”? “I am”.
When parents frequently call you long-distance and complain about vague symptoms, sometimes they are telling you that they are scared or lonely. Try to get to what the underlying issue is and don’t focus so much on the vague symptoms. All medical complaints need to be evaluated by a health care professional.
Tell your parent/s that you respect their autonomy.
Wanting them to be independent and to support their independence, you need to know about a few important items to help them when and if and emergency presents itself:
What kind of legal planning have they done?
If they became disabled could you or another party take over without going to the court system? This means they have a trust and Durable Power of Attorneys for Health and Finances in place.
Talk about their finances.
What is their monthly income? Where does the income come from? What are their assets? Get a list of bank accounts and brokerage accounts. Is the income sufficient to meet their needs? They could be entitled to some government programs if they are low income or even middle income.
What is their medical insurance and what are the numbers associated with those polices. What is their social security number? Do they have life insurance policies or long term care policies? If they have this insurance get the names and phone numbers of the companies.
Have they pre-paid for Funeral and/or Burial expenses?
Where have they done this? What is the phone number of the mortuary and/or cemetery?
Who is their doctor/s? What medications are they currently taking?
List them all and ask what each medication is for. Ask them if they take any over the counter medications or vitamins or herbs?
How often do they see friends?
Do you have the name and phone number of a friend they see often?
Are they drinking alcohol?
If yes, how much?
Are they driving safely?
Do they have convenient transportation?