care managers often receives calls from adult children of aging parents
that ask the question, "I’ll be seeing my aging parents and I have some
concerns about their mental status or their ability to live
independently. What should I ask or how do I help without letting on
that I'm concerned?"
The following will be helpful in your conversation and observation of your parents while you are visiting them:
honest. If you are concerned about their needs, say so. State this in
an “I” message. For example, “I am concerned about your diet, you seem
to be losing weight.” Or “I noticed that you call me often and forget
we have just talked, are you concerned about your memory”? “I am”.
parents frequently call you long-distance and complain about vague
symptoms, sometimes they are telling you that they are scared or
lonely. Try to get to what the underlying issue is and don’t focus so
much on the vague symptoms. All medical complaints need to be evaluated
by a health care professional.
parent/s that you respect their autonomy. Wanting them to be
independent and to support their independence, you need to know about a
few important items to help them when and if and emergency presents
What kind of legal planning have they
done? If they became disabled could you or another party take over
without going to the court system?
their finances. What is their monthly income? Where does the income
come from? What are their assets? Get a list of bank accounts and
brokerage accounts. Is the income sufficient to meet their needs? They
could be entitled to some government programs if they are low income or
even middle income.
What is their medical
insurance and what are the numbers associated with those polices. What
is their social security number? Do they have life insurance policies
or long-term care policies? If they have this insurance get the names
and phone numbers of the companies.
pre-paid for funeral and/or burial expenses? Where have they done this?
What is the phone number of the mortuary and/or cemetery?
is their doctor/s? What medications are they currently taking? List
them all and ask what each medication is for. Ask them if they take any
over the counter medications or vitamins or herbs?
How often do they see friends? Do you have the name and phone number of a friend they see often?
Are they drinking alcohol? If yes, how much?
Are they driving safely? Do they have convenient transportation?
are all useful questions that can be asked to help give you a better
idea of how they are living and if they will be in need of assistance
any time soon. Remind them that you are there for them and not to be
afraid to call you if they need anything, even if its just to chat.
Afterall, they raised you and were there for you throughout your whole
life. Its only fair that you now return the favour.