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FROM THE EDITOR'S PEN / Sleuth-ebrating the Holidays / Editorial List

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Sleuth-ebrating the Holidays

 

As we reach the end of another National Family Caregivers Month, it is kind of fitting that so many will be celebrating the dual event of Thanksgiving and Hanukkah tomorrow. (When has any caregiver been asked to do just one thing at a time?) If you miss this joint celebration, donít worry. The next time these two holidays fall on the same date will be in 70,000 years -- plenty of time to brine your bird.

This holiday season can also be a time to be a loving (but slightly nosey) detective. If you are traveling to visit your loved ones who may be in need of care, the holidays afford an ideal time to assess any changes in their health and well-being.

As any good detective knows, the first step is to follow the clues.

Clue One - Your loved oneís home:

  • What condition is it in? Is it a clean, clutter free and safe environment?
  • The kitchen is where you can find a lot of telling clues. Look for signs of spoiled food, or an excess of junk/convenience foods compared to the last visit. This may be a sign they have stopped cooking.
  • Is the bathroom safe, with grab bars (if necessary) and slip proof mats? Are cords dangling dangerously near running water?

Clue Two - Your loved oneís behavior:

  • How do they handle their medication regimen? Are they using expired medications?
  • Is your loved one acting withdrawn, or making excuses not to participate?
  • Are there noticeable changes to hearing, sight or speech?
  • What is their balance like? Are stairs becoming an issue?
  • Observe memory capabilities. A good way to check this is to see if a loved one is remembering to pay bills, or keep appointments.
  • What are your loved oneís grooming habits like?

Once your detectiving is done and you have a clear picture of your loved oneís living situation, it is time to assess if you need to take further next steps in providing additional care for them.

  • What services (appointments, shopping, banking, etc.) do they need access to on a regular basis?
  • Is your loved one still able to drive? Donít just take their word for it.
  • What socialization opportunities exist in the community to help prevent isolation and depression?
  • Is another family member or close friend living nearby and able to help?
  • What local help is available?

Before making any big changes, itís essential to talk (respectfully) with your loved one about what they see as their greatest needs. Discuss solutions, and then bring some options forward that may work for all involved.

While the holidays may be overwhelmed by gifts and gatherings, itís also a great time for a long-distance caregiver to take the extra time to observe a loved oneís living situation and address any new needs. The gifts of love can be shared in many ways, even if not wrapped in a box and ribbon.

By the way, although I am a big fan of National Family Caregivers Month, I think every month is the perfect time to celebrate family caregivers.

 

Gary Barg
Editor-in-Chief
gary@caregiver.com







 

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