Tis the season to celebrate, rejoice, and often, reunite with loved ones near and far - including the elderly parents and relatives in our family who may not live near by. It's also a perfect time to do a bit of "home inspection" when you are visiting senior friends and relatives. Not snooping, of course. But looking more closely than you might normally.
It's a great opportunity to make sure they really are doing as well as they say they are. I have had a couple of beloved seniors over the years who I would call regularly. They always assured me they were doing just fine. But when I was finally able to get out to visit them, I discovered they definitely needed some extra help and closer oversight.
And that's not necessarily true just for the long distance relatives. I had a sweet aging neighbor, once, who I shopped for each week. While I was concerned about her deteriorating health, I didn't worry about what she was eating, since I knew about all the healthy items I was getting her. When she continued to worsen and I had to step in a bit more proactively, I was shocked to find quite a bit of that healthy food dead and dying in the fridge.
Now, when I visit aging relatives, I make sure I take a quick peek in their fridge, just to be sure they are eating OK.
If you do find that your senior relatives need some extra help, but are otherwise fine at home, some great resources to help them and you can include:
A housekeeper - through an agency, their church, or friend's referrals - once a week or even once a month
A gardener 3-4 times a month during the growing season. And if they live in snow country, perhaps they could come periodically to shovel the snow for them
Eventually, they may need to relocate to your home or a care facility, to ensure their safety and healthy well-being. But these simple little tips can often enable them to stay in their own home a bit longer - making them and you very happy. And that's often the best gift of all, isn't it.
Kaye Swain is a member of the Sandwich Generation dealing with the issues of caring for the elderly parents and relatives in her family while also babysitting grandchildren. She enjoys writing on those topics at SandwichINK, in order to provide other multigenerational caregivers with useful information, resources and encouragement.