If you are a long-distance caregiver for an elderly family member living independently, the holidays are a great time to do some sleuthing to check up on their well-being. Many elderly family members will not let you know that they are struggling in a certain area of their life. They fear that their independence will be taken away from them and they’ll need to leave their home. Just asking your loved one if she needs help with anything around the home may not give you the answer you need.
While you’re enjoying the holiday festivities and the time spent with your loved one, be intentional in searching for areas where your loved one could use a little assistance. Discover these areas early and help your loved one find some tools she can use to improve her quality of life at home. You’ll be helping her stay independent longer and remain in her own home for many years to come.
What to Look For:
The first place to look is the fridge. Things to check for are expired food, as well as a complete lack of food. Do you see fresh fruit or vegetables? Check the freezer as well to see what she’s got stored in there. If it’s just a gallon of ice cream, she might need some help.
How to Help:
If you feel like your loved one is not eating well or has become unable to assemble a healthy meal anymore, you might consider getting her a meal service that will deliver a daily meal. This can help ensure she’s enjoying a balanced diet. Have an elder care provider come to the home to help with meal prep and serving. An elder care provider can help her from shopping for her meals to preparing them, and even cleaning up afterward. They can also ensure that old leftovers are thrown out before they go bad.
Are there a lot of unpaid bills sitting on your loved one’s desk? Does she have voicemails demanding payment for late bills? She might need some help managing her finances. Hire services that will help with that. Ask to have her bills managed by a family member who can ensure they all get paid on time.
Checking your loved one’s car for dings and scrapes is a good way to see how her driving has been. If you see too much damage, you might consider having her drive less. Ask an elder care provider to provide transportation to necessary appointments and events. If your loved one is still driving, use this inspection to make sure oil changes, tire pressure, and fluid levels are all where they should be. This will keep her safe while on the road.
If you see any areas that you think your loved one could use a little help with, approach the topic gently with her. Remind her that having someone help will give her a better chance to continue to live independently in her home longer.