Spending time with our extended families over the Christmas/new Year’s period can also mean we have had the opportunity to notice changes from the previous year in our grand/parents. Such signs of diminished capabilities may be:
* Repeated stories (if this is out of character)
* Non recognition of family members
* Unsteady gait
* Reduced eating
* Clutter in a home that was once clutter free
* Less cleanliness of clothes/self
* Appointments missed/forgotten
* Unpaid bills
If any of these signs are of concern to your family then it’s worthwhile having a family discussion on what you can do to assist your elderly parent/grand-parent and how you can share the responsibilities. A good way to break this up is to categorise the load into the ‘3 bs’. Business, Body and Building. One family member could be overseeing the finances part, another person in charge of appointments and bookings and another person in charge of home maintenance and appliances. It’s important that everyone is transparent and across all decisions so no one feels they are being left out or are given more tasks than another sibling. You may find that you need to outsource some of these services to professionals, as there are private services out there that can assist you with completion of paperwork or assistance with everyday tasks such as shopping and cleaning. Your parent/grandparent may also qualify for assistance such as access to Commonwealth funded residential care, residential respite, Community Aged Care packages etc. but you will need to organize an ACAS assessment first, so contact their family doctor to get the ball rolling on that.
Ensure that management of your parents/grandparents legal, financial, medical and social matters are in hand.
It’s critical that the legal side encompassing wills, executors and power of attorney have been covered by a solicitor. Without these legal documents in place your parent/grandparent will have no choices.
Financial information encompassing bank accounts and Investment and Financial advisors should be in place and siblings should know whom to contact in an emergency.
Documenting medical wishes and ensuring your parents/grandparents continue to see health professionals such as their dentist, podiatrist and occupational therapy is important for their well being.
Social – looking and feeling good, keeping their mind stimulated, continuing to be involved in the arts and even having an animal are all essential for their quality of life.
When elderly people’s mental or physical state keep them from engaging in activities outside the home it’s time for the family to engage some assistance and thankfully there are support services available to put in place. Getting help with paperwork, payment of bills, cooking, shopping and even companionship can make a huge difference to your parent/grand parent being able to cope. It can improve their lives giving them more mobility, less physical pain and more social and intellectual engagement. Preparation is the key and not waiting till it’s too late to put this help in place. So if you noticed some deterioration in your loved ones this festive season, don’t wait till Christmas 2014, put some plans in place now!