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When should I start thinking about a change of living environment for my parent(s)? |
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When should I start thinking about a change of living environment for my parent(s)?

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When should I start thinking about a change of living environment for my parent(s)?

There may be overt signs that a change is needed, OR there may be subtle indicators that prompt the thought that something is not quite right. Repeated forgetfulness that might pose a danger to your parent is one of the overt signs. Your mother was making hard boiled eggs—for two hours.

It should all be about the best interest of your parent(s).

The smoke alarms go off because the pot is empty (and burnt) and smoke has filled the kitchen. This has happened twice in the last month. Your father goes for his morning walk to get the newspaper at the 7-11 down the street. Despite the fact that he has been doing this daily for the past 20 years, he suddenly can’t remember how to get back to his house; he begins to wander, and a police officer finds him, and calls you to let you know your dad is lost. RED FLAG ALERT…
Then, let’s not forget the physical concerns related to aging that can also pose a danger to your parent. Your mother falls on her way to the laundry room which is just down the hall from her apartment. She sustains a hip fracture, undergoes surgery, goes to rehab, and then is discharged home. You arrange for an aide to come in for 4 hours a day (which is all your mother will allow because she really is “fine”). After two days, your mother tells you she doesn’t want the aide any longer—it’s simply “a waste of money,” and she sends the aide away for good. Two weeks later, she falls again on her way to the bathroom, and breaks her other hip. RED FLAG ALERT…

You go to visit your parents and happen to glance at the pill planner boxes. You notice that your dad hasn’t taken his evening blood thinners for three days last week. When you ask about it, he tells you that he always takes his pills and he doesn’t know why those pills are remaining in the planner. Another scenario…. Your dad passed away 2 months ago, and your very capable mother who has always prided herself on dressing in a pristine fashion, shows up to Thanksgiving dinner with stains all over her blouse. She says she didn’t realize the blouse wasn’t clean. Then, the following week, when you go to pick her up to take her out to lunch, you smell an uncharacteristic odor. She tells you she simply didn’t feel like showering. YELLOW FLAG ALERT…

The “red flag alerts” are overt signs that the current situation is likely to be unsafe. The “yellow flag alerts,” although more subtle, may indicate depression or early forgetfulness. Regardless, these situations can evoke feelings of angst and uncertainty for you and are likely to prompt you to begin to think that “something may need to change.”

1 Comment
  • Rachel Evans

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    August 24, 2015

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