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Home for the holidays? Look for these signs your aging loved ones may need some extra help

(BPT) - The holiday season is a time to gather and spend quality time with family members. If you have aging parents and relatives, it is also a great time to check in and find out if they are living as full, happy and healthy a life as they deserve.

It is natural to worry about your loved ones, but it can feel very foreign to approach them about their well-being. Your loved ones may be experiencing health concerns or other troubles that are difficult to pick up on. If you struggle with ways to ask older family members how they’re coping, you are not alone. While you're home for the holidays, start a dialogue with your aging relatives to see if they could use additional support to make certain they age comfortably.

Start simple: How are you feeling?

An open-ended question encourages your loved one to discuss whatever may be ailing them, physically or emotionally. If they're willing to share, keep the conversation going as long as possible to see what's working and what needs are not being met. If they are short on details, try some of these other questions.

Do you like your doctor? How often do you go to them for a visit?

It’s important for your relative to have regular checkups to address their particular health issues. By keeping up with their health care schedule, you can anticipate when they may need additional physical or emotional support.

If your loved one has an upcoming medical procedure or scheduled hospitalization, work together to create a plan — from admission to full recuperation — to ensure that they receive high-quality care at each step of the process.

What a handy, well organized pillbox! Could you tell me more about what medications you are taking?

Making sure your relative understands what they’re taking and is able to stay on top of their prescriptions is vital to ensure their continued well-being.

Studies show that 30% of hospitalizations among older adults are drug related, with upwards of 11% of those hospitalizations attributed to medication mismanagement. Older adults who live alone are the most susceptible to making mistakes with their medications.

If your parents or loved ones seem to struggle with explaining what they are on, it may be time to dive a little deeper and make sure they are adhering to their prescriptions.

How are your friends doing? Do you see them often?

Asking about your relative’s social circle and activities they enjoy can reveal if they are experiencing any feelings of loneliness. Research shows that companionship can improve health and extend lifespans for older patients. For relatives who are aging independently, it may be difficult to fulfill their need for companionship. If your loved one is feeling lonely, kindly encourage social involvement with old friends, neighbors or with new faces at senior centers or similar organizations.

Do you feel stressed about housework and daily chores?

To ensure a positive aging-in-place experience, it is essential that the home environment is clean and safe. While you’re together this holiday season, keep an eye on your loved one to watch how they go about daily tasks. Is there an opportunity to make small modifications to their routine? Consider moving laundry machines to the main level of the home if they aren’t already, reorganize the kitchen cabinets so often-used dishes are in reach, or install handrails and grab bars throughout the home. Recognizing opportunities for improvement is a great first step in creating a positive care environment.

Work together: What can I do to support your long-term care plan?

It can be a tough discussion, but it is important to know your mom, dad or relative’s plan for care as they age. You may find out that they don’t have a plan at all, which is okay. Having an open conversation with your parent or relative will kick-start or reinvigorate the planning process.

Being aware of your loved one’s care plan can give everyone in the family peace of mind. There are many options for long-term care, but each plan should include varying levels of care in anticipation of evolving needs. Whether your loved one would like to age at home, in a nursing facility or senior home facility, both you and your relative will feel better knowing they have support that will allow them to thrive in their golden years.

Looking forward: What’s our next step?

Once you have a feel for the needs and desires of your loved one, you can take action to create the care plan they've set in place. After talking with your parent or relative, consider speaking with an expert.

For those looking to remain at home, the care team at Tandem Careplanning, a Los Angeles-based in-home care company, can help you and your family navigate the caregiving relationship throughout the care continuum, with 24/7 support and a network of vetted and trained caregivers. Tandem Careplanning is focused on transforming the perception of in-home care from a punishment into a reward, allowing each client to live their best life. Tandem caregivers are vetted and trained to provide companionship and in-home care, including meal preparation, medication reminders, errands, transportation, appointment accompaniment, light housework and hygiene.

Reach out to the care professionals at Tandem Careplanning to learn more about in-home care services and to understand your options. If you or someone you know is interested in hiring part-time or full-time in-home care or companionship in Los Angeles, contact Tandem Careplanning at 1-800-370-3377 or visit TandemCareplanning.com.

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