A midlife sibling summer visit to elderly parents visit to an older Dad or Mom can be sweet or it can be scary. You might go for the family reunion with your midlife siblings, week at the family summer home with or without your midlife siblings, take the young siblings to see your hometown or any holiday visit.
The frightening part often happens when you haven’t seen an aging parents for a while. If you live long distance, making an occasional visit can set off alarms, especially if find your aging Mom or Dad has gone down hill.
Here is a checklist to take with you, on your summer visit I have given you ten red flags to watch for when you spend time with aging parents. This means you may have to get out your magnifying glass, like Sherlock Holmes, and really look for clues.
➢ Curb Appeal – Does your Dad’s home look more like an unmaintained rental? Is there disrepair, a weedy yard, uncleaned carpets or furniture?
➢ Housekeeping – Are there dirty dishes, unwashed sheets, a mess where things used to be tidy? Does the house look like it needs a scrubbing, or at least someone to help with cleaning?
➢ Medication – Can you find a stash of outdated medication in the bathroom, bedroom or anywhere?
➢ Driving – Is driving with your older Dad frightening? Ask him to drive you somewhere. How is his reaction time, or judgment? Can he drive at night? Does he have traffic tickets? Assess the car. Is it worse for wear, dented or are there telltale signs of accidents?
➢ Trash- Are there bags of trash in the basement or out back? Look in closets.
➢ Collections- Are there growing collections that appear to be out of control, of newspapers, magazines, old sports memorabilia, ashtrays – any accumulation that appears to be taking over space and looks excessive. This is a sign of hoarding
➢ Shopping- Take him out shopping or out to a meal to celebrate the day. When he does shopping or pays for a meal, does he have problems with checks, credit cards, figuring tips, or calculating discounts? Does he forget his wallet or other important personal items he should have with him?
➢ Change in Behavior- Is Dad quiet when he used to be loud? Is he paranoid, having mood swings, unsocial when he used to be the belle of the ball or life of the party?
➢ Odors- Did you smell urine? Must? Mildew? Dirty clothes or dishes?
➢ Refrigerator- Are there science experiments, aka moldy food in the refrigerator?
If any of these clues turn up trouble, you need talk your midlife siblings about the problems you have discovered and set up a family meeting via Skype, in person or a family conference call. ( see my last blog)
Talk to Mom and Dad, the subject of my next blog.
You may also need to call geriatric care manager
for help. They are experts in solving problems with aging parents.