HOME - after all this is where Mom and Dad feel most comfortable, right? As families we don’t realize or don’t want to accept that there may come a time when “Bears move in.” I call it The Goldilocks Zone. So how do we know when your parents have gone from living fine at home to living in the Goldilocks zone? Here are THE THREE BEARS you need to look for:
- Nutrition – Mom and or Dad are not eating regularly? Their fridge is packed with food but some of it is out of date or improperly contained, or their fridge is painfully empty. There may be multiple items of the same thing (15 cans of tomato sauce?) Mom used to enjoy cooking but now seems to have soup and microwave dinners more often than not. Dad lives alone – but ventures out to get fast food for dinner because he never learned to cook.
- Medication – Mom takes quite a few medications. You’re not even sure exactly what she takes. When quizzed she is adamant that she knows how to take her own medications – but pills seem in disarray, some are out of date. Dad has multiple Doctors for several medical issues – you’re not sure and neither is he whether each Doctor is aware of what the other physician has prescribed. You bought Mom a pill box to help her keep her medicine organized. You’re even going over once a week to fill it – but you notice that when you went on Sunday to fill it for the week that some of the days still had the PM medication in the box. Dad is supposed to take his medications at morning and night – but yesterday he got up at 10:30AM and took his medication and then he ate dinner at 4:00PM and took it again. (morning and night yes – but not the correct interval)
- Socialization & Habit Changes - Mom, Dad aren’t going to their usual social engagements. They may explain that it was cancelled or they “just didn’t feel up to it”. Mom doesn’t want to attend family outings. Dad or Mom is no longer able to drive or shouldn’t be driving anymore causing them to be isolated and housebound. Usual routines are falling by the wayside. Mom was always fastidious in her dress but no longer seems as interested in her hygiene. Dad always paid the bills and was conscientious about finances but lately his desk is a mess and papers are piling up everywhere. Mom kept a clean house – but the house seems left unkempt. Clothing is soiled.
If you are recognizing some of these behaviors in your Mom or Dad then it may be that they have entered the Goldilocks Zone. Don’t panic. There are lots of things you can do. The most important thing is to “read the signs”. These issues need to be addressed. Left unhandled they can evolve into much more serious issues. Remember the progression of aging doesn’t happen overnight. Thankfully we often have time to address things together as a family one step at a time.
Check back in for more information on steps you can take to address THE BEARS that your parents may be facing.