Bear in mind that what's important is behavioral changes. Any one difference may not be significant; medications, for example, can sometimes cause bad breath or odd odors. Multiple changes suggest a higher possibility that a parent needs assistance.
Don't be surprised, Merryweather said, if your parents already are aware they need help. They may not want to initiate a conversation about it for fear of having to leave their home. They may even have sought help on their own.
“There are generally at least a half dozen ads in the newspaper every week from individuals saying, ‘I'm old. I need help. I have money to pay you. Here's my name and number,'” he said. “Someone who's not trained comes in and takes advantage of them. When I go see them, I hear story after story from people saying they were treated poorly or lost $50,000 or had their silverware stolen.”
Visiting Angels and similar organizations run background checks on potential hires. Applicants are subjected to drug tests. Many employees already had a proven track record of working in the home care field before they were hired. Families may meet with and interview care providers to insure a good fit.
Services range from brief visits in the morning or evening to 24-hour live-in care.
The costs are not insubstantial.
“This stuff unfortunately can be expensive,” said Merryweather, who bought his Visiting Angels franchise after deciding to shut down his Chicago insurance agency. “We're charging $17 an hour. Less than that if we do live-in care. That's a daily rate of a couple hundred dollars.
“That's not an easy nut for some people. For a lot of people.”
Set aside some time this holiday season to talk with your parents about what they want and need to remain independent. For those who require it, in-home assistance can be the perfect holiday gift.