Home for the Holidays? It's Prime Time for Checking on Older Relatives

The turkey is defrosting and family is starting to gather at the house for Thanksgiving. For many families, this is the once-a-year time that they travel from across the nation and, often times, the globe to be with loved ones. In addition to enjoying time with family and friends, AARP says it's also prime time to check on older family members and relatives.
AARP has released a list of tips and questions to simplify observing how Mom, Dad and other relatives are doing with everything from mobility to heath and finances.

Taking a Look at their Home – How to tell if their home is still appropriate

• Can they still manage the stairs, or would a chair lift or a home on one level be better?
• Are you concerned that their home may have safety hazards, such as dark stairs, loose rugs, clutter, or fire hazards? Would brighter lighting and fewer tripping hazards help?
• Is there a bath on the ground floor and a room that could become a bedroom if necessary?
• Could simple modifications to their home, like easier-to-use handles and switches, pull-out cabinet shelves, a comfort-height toilet or walk-in shower make it more convenient?

Getting Around – How to gauge their driving safety and transportation options

• If they are still driving, ride with them and observe their driving. Are they having close calls? Are there dents or dings on the car or garage? Do they drive too slow or miss signs or signals? Do they have difficulties at intersections? Have they gotten warnings or tickets? These are a few signs that it might be time to talk about limiting driving or hanging up the keys.
• Look around the community or make a note to research their alternative transportation options for shopping, medical visits, religious services and visits with family and friends if they hang up the keys.

Health – A few key things to check

• If you don't already know about their health problems and current medications, take this time to ask. Are their prescriptions current?
• Has their doctor or pharmacist reviewed all of their medications for side effects and potentially dangerous interactions or effect on driving? Their pharmacist can be a great resource.
• Are they having any problems taking their medications? Do they always remember which medications to take and when? Would a pill organizer be helpful?
• Make sure that they know that it is Medicare open enrollment season until December 7 and see if they need to update their coverage. See if they have any questions about Medicare or Medicaid or changes under the new health care law.
• See if they could use help with filling out forms, such as insurance claims.

Finances – How to get ready to help

• Is all of their financial information in one place and do you know where it is so you can access it in an emergency?
• Check on the condition of their mail. Are bills stacking up? Are there late notices?
• Do they have any bills they can't pay?

Source: AARP

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