Thursday, July 10, 2014

Five Things To Do For Your Aging Parent Before Heading South For The Winter

As a retiree you may be responsible for an aging parent and have some trepidation about leaving them behind.  With a little advance planning you will be able to head south with a clear conscience and confidence that your elderly parent is well looked after.  My husband and I are the primary care givers for his Mother who is in her mid-80’s.Though she still lives independently in a home of her own, we recognize she has limitations with mobility, reduced energy levels and understanding and managing her finances.

For the past several years, my husband has ensured his mother's safety and comfort, while we are in the sunny south, by following the five tips below.

1.      Have up to date Power of Attorney with a substitute decision maker, if you are out of the country. You want to be certain there is someone local who can act on your parent’s behalf should the need arise

2.      Schedule and complete all medical, dental and other health related appointments by mid-summer.  This leaves room just in case follow up tests are required.  Having medications delivered monthly, in daily blister packages, will help to ensure medications are being taken as prescribed. Knowing your parent is in good health before you go will provide all of you with peace of mind. 

3.      Pay particular attention to your parent’s ability to function on their own. Can they complete the activities of daily living unassisted? Do they need help with housekeeping, bathing or grooming, feeding themselves or shopping?  Each year, we find changes in my Mother-in-laws ability to care for herself and so each year we add a new service or two.  Ask your parent's doctor (or Community Care Access Centre) to schedule an assessment of your parent’s abilities. Put the appropriate new services in place by late summer; so that you give your parent time to adjust to a new care giver in their lives.  It is important to enlist family and friends, where possible, to schedule regular visits and time for socializing.  

4.      You want to make sure everything is set in place when it comes to banking. Make sure there are provisions in place for paying bills and leave a healthy balance for your parents personal use.

5.      Keep in touch!  Call and talk to your elderly parent at least three times a week. Keeping a regular dialogue will give you a better idea of how they are doing. Don’t forget to contact your network of formal and informal care givers on a regular basis because they will be able to alert you to changes in your parents care needs.

It is important to think ahead and have a plan firmly in place long before you plan to travel. Following the five tips I have listed, has allowed my husband and I to continue to spend our winters in the south.

Do you care for an aging or elderly parent? Do you have additional tips or advice that might help others? Please share your experiences, stories, tips and advice in the comments!

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