The holiday season may be one of the few times families get together and realize their elderly loves ones are deteriorating and need help. Though the realization adds stress to an already hectic and stressful time, consider it a wakeup call to take steps to turn the situation around. As a plan for this holiday, the family might gather around the kitchen table, not only for turkey and gravy, but also for a discussion on how to care for an ailing, elderly relative.
"The joy of the season is clouded with the realization that your relatives are suffering and can't make it alone," says Peter Ross, CEO of Senior Helpers, a national provider of in-home care for seniors. He says that thousands of Americans will come home this Christmas to deteriorating relatives who are no longer able to fully care for themselves. "This is often the best time for family members to hash out care solutions everyone agrees on," he says.
Many seniors don't want to ask for help or leave their homes, although they clearly need care and support. In-house programs, such as Senior Helpers, connect professional caregivers with seniors for a range of personal and companion care services to provide a safe, healthy environment – and peace of mind for concerned relatives.
Last Christmas, Paula Peace of Atlanta and her brother realized their 87-year-old mom, Sally, needed more than a visit and a few presents under the tree. Their mom is legally blind and needed help cooking and bathing. "We saw Mom struggling and we knew the best present for her was in-home care," Peace says. "We could see Mom's deterioration right in front of us."
Peace encouraged her mom to hire an in-home caregiver from Senior Helpers for seven days a week, providing the necessary support to keep her safe living at home. Finding the solution was the best holiday gift for everyone, Peace says, "We don't have to worry or feel guilty."
The Council on Aging offers these warning signs that your elderly relatives need help:
If you notice these signs when you visit your parents or grandparents, it is time to decide as a family the best plan for their long-term care.
Senior Helpers advises families to lay out an agenda for a family meeting to reach some kind of peaceful consensus. "It's one thing to all recognize there's a problem, but then the whole family has to agree on the solution," Ross says.
Ready to sit down and have a talk? Here is Senior Helpers' guide to family planning meetings:
Though discovering your elderly relatives are in duress during the holiday season can be dismaying -- holidays are supposed to be joyous times, after all -- consider the wakeup call a blessing. Now that you are aware that they are in need, you can do something about it and help ensure their health and safety as well as improve the quality of their life.
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