LegalJourney Blog

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Keeping an Eye on an Elderly Parent From Afar: Signs to Look For

How can you care for seniors who live independently when you are at a distance?

It is increasingly common for the elderly to "age in place," retaining as much independence as possible. Many seniors understandably do not wish to give up their homes and may even feel shame about being a burden to their families or having to move to an assisted living facility. 

Seniors May Not Realize How Much Help They Need

For a son or daughter concerned about an aging parent, making sure that all is well can be a challenge, especially if the parent is at a distance. A parent's assurances that "all is well" may not reflect difficult truths. Seniors may not be aware of all that is wrong with their health, hygiene, or nutrition. 

Regular visits are the best way to assess a parent's quality of life. Holidays can be a good opportunity to observe loved ones without injuring their pride. Sometimes, unfortunately, it takes a crisis—a fall, a trip to the emergency room, an urgent call from a neighbor—to alert families to problems.

Key Warning Signs As Parents Grow Older

Children should generally be on the lookout for a number of warning signs in the elderly.

• Mail is accumulating in an elderly person's home. The home generally seems to be in more disarray that usual.

• The elderly person looks paler, thinner, or less healthy than usual, suggesting that they are missing meals and/or medication.

• Burnt pots and pans and expired food in the refrigerator or in cupboards may indicate difficultly shopping and cooking.

• Scrapes on a car door or a parent's reluctance to go out may suggest problems with driving and getting around. This in turn can lead an elderly person to skip necessary doctors' visits and errands.

• Disorganized assortments of pills and unfilled prescriptions raise concerns that a parent is not taking required medications on schedule or at the right dosage

• Black-and-blue marks and other injuries may suggest that a parent has fallen or bumped into something.

• Mood changes, unwillingness to socialize, and disorientation or confusion could be signs of anything from mild depression to early dementia.

What to Do Next

Regular help from a home health aide, adjustments to bathroom fixtures or the addition of a bed rail, and other limited steps may help an aging parent deal with problems like arthritis or other non-life-threatening conditions. But often more extensive interventions are needed. Regular help from family members, a live-in caregiver, or a move to an assisted living facility may be required at some point.  

You may also need to need to take steps to protect an elderly person's assets and find ways to pay for home healthcare or assisted living. An experienced elderlaw attorney can help you deal with legal and practical aspects of caring for an aging parent.


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Attorney Karnardo Garnett represents clients with their Estate Planning, Elder Law and Asset Protection needs throughout the Tampa Bay Area, serving all of the bay area, including but not limited to Tampa, Brandon, Clearwater, St. Petersburg, Gibsonton, Riverview, Oldsmar, Safety Harbor, Hillsborough County, and Pinellas County, FL



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