During the holidays, you may be spending more time around your parents and other aging family members. Since it’s always best to address potential health concerns early, keep an eye out for changes in their behavior and appearances.
Is dad forgetting to take his medication? Has mom lost weight? Is Grandma starting to show early signs of dementia? If you notice changes to an aging relative’s health, you may find yourself wondering, “What do I do now?”
Making health care decisions about an older adult family member can be emotional and difficult. Here are 10 matters to keep in mind:
- Determine and continually reevaluate the most appropriate care setting, including long-term care options such as home care, assisted living, and nursing homes.
- Locate a top geriatrician to be the “hub” of the overall care plan. This will help in coordination with other specialists.
- Understand health insurance coverage options and maximize benefits for Medicare and private insurance.
- Revisit and discuss all aspects of financial planning, from paying for long-term care to estate planning.
- Agree upon the primary decision makers in the event your parent cannot advocate for him or herself. Appoint a health care proxy.
- Consider mental health. Are they showing signs of depression or anxiety? They may need mental health treatment or help putting plans in place to socialize.
- Manage wellness concerns, including nutrition, diet, and sleep.
- Create a plan for emergency and urgent care needs.
- Use technology, such as medical alert systems to simplify planning and communication.
- Keep in mind the needs of the caregiver. Self-care is essential to being an effective advocate for your loved one.
In matters of health, having someone outside the family to assist and provide decision support is invaluable. Whether you need support choosing a nursing home, setting up home care, or selecting the best insurance plan, an expert health advisor can help your family adapt as loved ones’ needs change.