FROM THE EDITOR'S PEN
/ 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
Clue Two - Your loved oneís behavior:
- How do they handle their medication regimen? Are
they using expired medications?
your loved one acting withdrawn, or making excuses
not to participate?
- Are there noticeable changes to hearing, sight or
- What is their balance like? Are stairs becoming an
- 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?
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?
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
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