8 Signs Your Loved One Is Ready for In-Home Care
- Shifts in personality. Is your loved one withdrawing from friends and social activities? Has he or she given up favorite hobbies or stopped participating in the activities that used to be enjoyable? If you sense your loved one feels lonely, depressed, or isolated, then it may be time for in-home care.
- Threats to safety. As adults age, safety can become a primary concern. Safety issues to be aware of include: mobility issues, struggling with stairs, an increasing number of accidents and falls, forgetting to take medications, difficulty rising from a seated position, leaving water running, or forgetting to turn off the oven or stove.
- Household chores are being neglected. For example, dirty dishes are piling up in the sink, plants are dying, trash is overflowing, there is significant clutter and spoiled food, etc.
- Noticeable declines in personal hygiene. Does your loved one appear disheveled or unclean? Have you noticed that he or she is repeatedly wearing the same clothing or the clothes appear unwashed?
- Skipping meals. Weight loss due to skipping meals can be a sign that your loved one is struggling with shopping or meal preparation. When you walk through the kitchen and look in the refrigerator, do you find food that is stale, expired, or moldy?
- Noticeable cognitive decline. Have you noticed increased confusion, difficulty following directions, or poor judgment? Take a moment to check in with the neighbors or your loved one’s friends to find out if they have noticed any unusual or worrisome behaviors.
- Increased driving incidents. Signs that driving has become a safety issue include multiple unexplained scratches or dents in the car, traffic tickets, driving under the speed limit, tailgating, or drifting into other lanes.
- Financial problems. Look for signs that your loved one is struggling with managing his or her finances. Are bills piling up with final notices and calls from creditors? Is there evidence that he or she may have fallen victim to a scam or have paid the same bills multiple times?
Aging Parents: 10 Things to Know for an Emergency
Courtesy of the Mayo Clinic
Prepare for an emergency by gathering the information you might need should your parent be hurt and unable to respond to doctors’ questions.
If your aging parents were to have a medical emergency, could you provide the information doctors would need to care for them? Do you know the names of your aging parents’ doctors? Is your mom taking any medications? Has your dad ever had any surgery?
While you might not know the answers to some of these questions about your aging parents, it takes only a few minutes to collect and write down this vital information. And it can save precious time in an emergency. “Sometimes a parent isn’t able to give medical information when an emergency arises, so emergency medical personnel must rely on the adult children or a spouse for that information,” says Paul Takahashi, M.D., a specialist in geriatrics at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. “These are things you should know. Just as you fill out those emergency cards for your kids in school, you should have similar information available about your parents.”
Below—in order of importance—is a list of 10 things you need to know about your aging parents’ health.
- Names of their doctors. If you don’t know anything else, this is probably the most important piece of information. Why? Chances are good that your parents’ doctors can provide much of the rest of the information needed, as well as more details about your parents’ specific health histories.
- Birth dates. Often medical records and insurance information are cataloged according to birth date. This can improve communication in an emergency or a crisis.
- List of allergies. This is especially important if one of your parents is allergic to medication; penicillin, for example.
- Advance directives. An advance directive is a legal document that outlines a person’s decisions about his or her health care, such as whether or not resuscitation efforts should be made and the use of life-support machines.
- Major medical problems. This includes such conditions as diabetes or heart disease.
- List of medications and supplements. It’s especially important that a doctor know if your parent uses blood thinners. It’s also important for your doctor to know if your parents take any vitamin or herbal supplements that might interact with medications given in an emergency situation.
- Religious beliefs. This is particularly important in case blood transfusions are needed.
- Insurance information. Know the name of your parents’ health insurance provider and their policy numbers.
- Prior surgeries and major medical procedures. List past medical procedures, including implanted medical devices such as pacemakers.
- Lifestyle information. Do your parents drink alcohol or use tobacco?
Knowing these 10 things should help you take care of your parents in an emergency.
HIPAA and privacy
During conversations with medical staff, the issue of privacy may come up. Staff may want to make sure they’re allowed to speak with you regarding your parent’s care. In the United States, patient privacy is governed by rules often referred to as HIPAA, or the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.
HIPAA does not prevent a doctor, nurse, or health-plan employee from discussing your parent’s care with you if it’s in the best interest of your parent. For example, if discussing your parent’s care would help a doctor take care of your parent in an emergency situation, that’s considered in your parent’s best interest. Generally, doctors and other health care professionals would consider a situation to be an emergency if your parent cannot answer questions about their health and medical history. This situation might arise if your parent has lost consciousness or has problems with memory.
To help you care for your aging parents, fill out this downloadable emergency medical information form and keep it with you in your wallet or purse.
For further assistance, contact us
or call Jewish Family Service at 614-231-1890.