5 Ways to Help Aging Parents
Many of us will travel to visit family this holiday season, making it the perfect time to notice if mom and dad – and other aging loved ones – need help living safely at home.
"We like to think mom and dad are more independent than they really are," says David Ritterling, owner of Visiting Angels home care agency, Pueblo, Colo., which provides private, in-home living assistance to seniors. "Over the holidays, families often realize that mom and dad have declined since the last time they've seen one another."
While you're in town visiting, take the opportunity to observe that mom and dad are safe and well taken care of by doing the following:
1. Walk through your loved one's home and look for fall hazards. Falls are the No. 1 cause of death in seniors. Look for electric cords running across the room, loose or rolled up carpeting, and other tripping hazards. Poor lighting also contributes to falls. Install grab handles in the tub/shower area, an area that's especially hazardous to seniors.
2. Notice if mom and dad are being responsible in the kitchen. People suffering from dementia may leave items on the stove in the middle of cooking and forget about them, a potential fire hazard. Also note if mom and dad are eating properly.
3. Set up programs such as FaceTime or Skype to keep in touch with mom and dad after you leave. Visiting Angels employs tech-savvy caregivers who can help loved ones negotiate the Internet when you're not around.
4. Contact mom and dad's local companion care agency now so if they need care in the future, you'll have someone to call. "If we meet you now we can be familiar with the situation and provide a caregiver quickly if and when an event takes place and you need someone in your relative's home," explains Ritterling.
5. Get in touch with local resources for the elderly, such as Meals on Wheels or local senior resource groups, if mom and dad need could use an assist with nutrition, activities and social support. Visiting Angels can provide families with a list of groups that provide meal delivery for seniors, exercise programs and other classes and services to keep mom and dad healthy and socially involved.
"People are living longer and they want to live as independently as possible," says Ritterling. With home care agencies such as Visiting Angels along with attentive friends and relatives, mom and dad can get the extra help they need to remain in their own environments safely and comfortably.
Visiting Angels is one of the largest, non-medical home care agencies in the country with 500 franchise locations. Angels provide help with activities of daily living, including bathing and dressing, personal care, light housekeeping, cooking and transportation. David Ritterling is owner of the Visiting Angels franchise in Pueblo and vice president of franchise development. To reach Visiting Angels in southern Colorado, contact the Pueblo office, (719) 543-4220, or Colorado Springs office, (719) 282-0180, or visit www.visitingangels.com