Aging parents — where to turn when you notice changes

More and more busy people are learning what it means to have an aging parent who needs help, and needs it now!

More and more busy people are learning what it means to have an aging parent who needs help, and needs it now!

You get a call at work and dad has fallen and he’s on his way to the hospital in an ambulance with a broken hip.

Or mom is in the hospital dehydrated, way behind on her scheduled meds — some of her meds are in the carpet and she’s not sure what they’re for.

Or you visit mom and dad and in the fridge is outdated food, the bathroom is a mess, and dad’s wearing the same clothes he had on for the last three days.

These are the very real scenarios we hear and see every day. Perhaps a bit of information here can be very helpful to reduce these major stressors that happen seemingly at the worst possible times.

Is your parent managing safely at home? Are they keeping on their proper medication schedule?

Have they suffered a fall?

Is their home being kept up satisfactorily?

Are bills and mail up to date? Is your intuition telling you something’s not right?

Signs like these may indicate that a little more support is needed to ensure safety at home.

Having someone who is a professional in aging/home care can provide a more objective set of eyes, and may provide suggestions that support healthier living at home.

Are safety equipment supports in the home? Simple additions like safety handles in the shower/tub, or safety handles on the toilet, are indispensable for avoiding a fall. They are like an extra set of hands helping to keep balanced.

Taller toilets and walk in showers are two important advances in safe home living as we age. Stability poles in the bedroom, or bathroom, can be life savers as well.

Has your parent expressed future health wishes? Assigned Power of Attorney? And is it recorded in the appropriate document? An Advance Directive and a CPR directive are two tools that should be discussed with a parent’s doctor much earlier than most people choose to. Talk to your parent’s doctor right away and be prepared. Related to these documents is the Power of Attorney document (via the lawyer) that allows a trusted family member or friend to assist with legal decisions in times of need.

The importance of these documents cannot be understated, and are too often realized when it’s too late.

Not sure how to find out what resources for aging loved ones are out there? Call the Island Health (previously VIHA) inquiry line at 1-877-734-4101 and ask for a Community Resource Guide, which lists many different types of services for seniors, as well as various providers in each category. For example: home care services, prepared meal delivery, housekeeping, transportation, housing options, etc.

If your parent needs a health/home safety/cognitive assessment, this is also the right number to call first to inquire.

Finally, calling a helpful provider like Nurse Next Door as a resource can answer many questions, as private providers are often in touch with the excess of information and knowledge needed to support family members and help provide information and care for an aging parent effectively.

Stopping aging isn’t possible, but being prepared for it is. Equip yourself with knowledge and save yourself a potential crisis.

Chris Wilkinson is owner/GM of the Cowichan and Central VI Nurse Next Door Home Care Services franchise. Visit NurseNextDoor.com or email Chris at Cowichan@NurseNextDoor.com for more info.