The holidays are a good time to discuss living arrangements with elderly parents.
So says Tom Merryweather, owner of an Oklahoma City metro Visiting Angels franchise. Visiting Angels provides in-home nonmedical care and companionship to people who need some help remaining independent.
“We do house cleaning,” he said. “We fix their meals. We do their shopping. … We do a lot of work with Alzheimer's patients, helping with bathing and toileting. We do everything that is required to allow these people to stay in their home and not go to a nursing home.”
Holiday visits provide an ideal opportunity to assess how older parents are functioning and look for warning signs that they may be getting overwhelmed, he said. Few people wish to give up their independence or vacate their homes, but many could use a little help.
“Look at how they're dressing and if they're taking their medications as they should,” Merryweather said. “With Alzheimer's patients, the disease is progressive. You have to watch how those patients are doing once the sun goes down. That can produce a lot of anxiety.”
A Visiting Angels tip sheet identifies other symptoms to watch for:
• Has their wardrobe drastically changed?
• Are their clothes clean?
• Do they have body odor (which could suggest they need help bathing, washing hair or brushing teeth)?
• Have they made drastic changes to their physical appearance, such as wearing more or less makeup or not using their dentures?
• Is the house at its usual level of tidiness, or has it taken a change for the worse?
• Are dishes piling up?
• Is there expired food in the pantry?
• Are they eating enough and drinking sufficient amounts of water?
• Are their medications organized, or is there a scattered collection of medicines, including some that has expired?
• Are they still participating in activities they enjoy, and are they able to get where they want to go?
• Do they understand their medications? Have they skipped or forgotten medical appointments?