What to Look for when Home for the Holidays
The holidays are often spent with family members, some who don’t see each other the rest of the year. This may be the best time to observe how an older loved one is doing and determine if help is needed in the home.
“Just because a parent or grandparent is of a certain age does not mean they will need help. Often parents or grandparents will not come out and ask for help directly, but there may be indicators that they could use some assistance at home,” says Julie Alicki, Community Living Program Consultant at the Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan. “The holidays can be a good time to observe older family members at home, or in your home, to see if there are any concerns about their safety living alone. In-home care is often a viable option to help individuals stay independent in their own home.”
Alicki recommends looking for the following signs that a loved one may need help at home:
- Observe for changes to their appearance or home. Are their clothes clean? Do they seem or appear not to be bathing? Do they struggle with keeping their home clean?
- Take an inventory of medications. Are there more pills in a bottle than should be based on the prescriptions fill date and dosage information? Also look for old or outdated medication.
- What is in the refrigerator? Do they have a lot of old or spoiled food?
- Examine their car and their driving. Are there new dings or dents on the car that would indicate recent accidents? When riding with them do you witness slower reaction times, or other safety issues on the road?
- How are their finances? Do you see late notices/past due or shut off letters or warnings lying around?
- Watch how they walk and get up and down. Do you see them struggling with balance or is going up and down stairs or getting up from a chair difficult for them?
These signs don’t automatically mean someone needs help in the home, but can be good indicators to begin conversations about in-home care options.
“Most older adults want to stay in their own homes as they age and there are a number of choices for them to do so,” says Alicki. “In home care is not just for those who can afford to pay out of pocket, there are programs to help individuals with low incomes stay in their homes too.”
The Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan helps older adults and individuals with disabilities live in their homes with independence and dignity. For more information, visit the In-Home Care section on our site, or contact us at (616) 456-5664 or (888) 456-5664.
Snowflakes, Seniors and Scams
Around the winter months, like all of us, seniors may be more susceptible to scams that prey on persons needing to stay warm or to protect their health during frigid weather. However, during this time older adults can increase their knowledge about how to avoid being taken advantage of and ensure a safe and warm winter season.
Tips for seniors to avoid scams:
- Always ask for information in writing and read documents carefully before signing. When asked to sign a contract, consider taking the document home and read it without stress. If comfortable with the terms and conditions, return the next day with it signed.
- If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. During the winter months many places offer great bargains on items to keep warm and healthy. Unless it is a reputable, familiar business, stay away from deals that are “too good to pass up” and always read the fine print.
- Protect yourself and your medical and financial information. Do not disclose this information over the phone. This has long been a popular tool used by con artists to gain access to personal information. Financial and medical institutions do not ask for this information over the phone.
- Do your research before working with a new organization or individual. Many community resources exist to help seniors advocate for themselves. Contact your local Agency on Aging, the Better Business Bureau, legal assistance programs or family and friends you trust for more information on an organization. If something makes you uncomfortable, don’t do it.
For other ways to combat fraud and abuse, visit the Senior Advocacy in Action Alert and contact your state Representative about pending legislation.