How to help aging parents and loved ones

Posted at 6:42 PM, Nov 20, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-20 19:56:15-05

Over the next few weeks, many of us will be visiting elderly parents, grandparents, and other loved ones. Although this is a good time to share memories and have a nice visit, it is also important to check out their well being and offer support.

We all want our loved ones who are going through the aging process to be happy and safe. But, sometimes it can be hard to spot what is needed, and how to take the right steps, at the right time. If you are visiting older loved ones for the holidays here are some things that you might want to pay attention to.

While having a natural conversation, ask questions about how they are doing, challenges they may be experiencing with things like health, finances, or just getting around. Pay attention to things like confusion, difficulty walking, performing daily activities, or signs that they may be having some financial challenges. It also important to talk about proper planning for who will have the legal ability to help them if they are unable to handle their financial or medical needs, and handling their estate when they pass.

Sometimes this conversation can be difficult and lead to push back, especially if it becomes evident that a loved one needs extra help. To make this process easier, practice what you will be asking and what you expect to hear before you start the conversation. Get help from others who can provide support with this process such as family members, medical and senior experts, and others who they are likely to trust. And, most important, remain compassionate, supportive, and allow your loved one to be as active as possible in making decisions regarding their needs.

Every county has an office for aging and disability resources. You can search for your county’s local office by contacting the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.

These offices can provide a wealth of information and support for everything from finding long-term care, to resources like transportation, meal programs, and caregiving services to help your loved ones stay in their homes.