This weekend, many family members will get together to celebrate Easter or Passover. Some will travel great distances to see parents and loved ones who they may not have seen in months or longer. Often, in addition to sharing a meal, conversation and memories, concern may arise if there is a seemingly sudden change in a loved one since a last visit. Often, right after significant holidays, websites like www.senioropolis.com, see a bump in searches and inquiries as worry about the future sets in for the children of elderly people who don't seem to be managing well.
While we always recommend that planning ahead is ideal and creates more opportunities for choice and adjustment, for those who haven't had that opportunity, the sooner you can begin your research, the better. Keep in mind that for any kind of assistance or relocation to work, as long as your loved one is mentally competent, you must have their agreement and cooperation.
There are signs you can be looking for when you visit, that may point to the need to begin discussions; things like kitchen safety issues, a noticeable weight loss or even substantial gain, changes in habits, behaviors or personality, evident difficulty with personal care or cognitive tasks, difficulty managing in general in the home or unexplained physical injury all may be cues to caregivers to start talking about options with your loved one.
There is really no 'best time' to have this conversation, but there are better ways to approach it and deal with it. Timing is important - so not at the holiday dinner table. Know your facts. Speak to other family members that may have more frequent contact about your concerns and find out their observations. Listen to your loved one. Don't attack or bombard. Tell them what you see and why you are concerned. Be supportive. Create a plan that starts with the least intrusive assistance and do some research about options available moving forward. Make it about problem solving and not about forcing them into something they don't want or understand a need for (we have an extensive article about this in our book and in the PDF download on Care Options for Seniors in Ontario https://www.senioropolis.com/BookInfo.asp).