Visiting Elderly Parents This Holiday Season? Aging Solutions Releases Tips For How To Assess Their Condition: Look, Listen and Pause

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Aging Solutions, a client centered care management company for the care of elderly and disabled adults has released the Eldercare Reality Check: Look, Listen and Pause, just in time for the holidays, when thousands of adult children will be visiting their parents. Look, Listen and Pause allows children to conduct a general assessment of their older parents during their visit by using these simple tips.

Terri Abelar, CEO and Founder of Aging Solutions

Terri Abelar

Our Tips: Look, Listen and Pause will help adult children assess their parent's situation in a general way and then they can still take time to enjoy the holidays," said Aging Solutions CEO and founder, Terri Abelar.

Terri Abelar, CEO and founder of Aging Solutions, Inc. (http://www.agingsolutions.com), a client-centered care management company for the care of elderly and disabled adults has released the Eldercare Reality Check: Look, Listen and Pause just in time for the holidays, when thousands of adult children will be visiting their parents.

Heading home for the holidays to visit their families after a long break can stir up conflicting feelings for adult children. There’s the nostalgia of the old neighborhood, traditions to relive, the touchstones of memory. But when your parents reach a certain age, going home may also bring up sadness, worry, and apprehension: Are they still okay? What will I do if they’re not?

Currently One Quarter of Adult Children Are Providing Personal and Financial Care For Their Parents*.

According to a MetLife study published earlier this year, the share of adult children “providing personal care and/or financial assistance to a parent has more than tripled over the past 15 years. Currently, a quarter of adult children, mainly baby boomers, provide these types of care to a parent.”

But it’s also true that the physical and/or mental decline of adult parents is a touchy subject. The holidays are rarely the time for taking action for children who see problems with the parents; they’ll likely tell them, perhaps loudly, that it’s none of their business how they’re doing—casting a pall over the holidays for everyone. But concern about how and when adult children’s parents might need their help is still a legitimate one. The best way to begin is to make a quiet, but informed, assessment over the holidays. Three things to keep in mind: Look, Listen, and Pause.

According to Aging Solutions CEO and Founder Terri Abelar, "The emotional burden of aging parents is spreading wider and getting heavier. Aging Solutions offers these tips Look, Listen and Pause to help adult children assess their loved one’s situation in a general way and then to still take time to enjoy the holidays."

Look

Look means looking for changes in your parents’ ability to carry out simple daily tasks, such as brushing their teeth, taking out the garbage, or putting away dishes. Do they do these tasks with more difficulty or less regularly? Is old food piling up in the refrigerator? Do they walk across a room freely, or are they touching furniture and walls to navigate? If so, they may be having balance problems. Observe how many medications your parents are taking and whether they are taking them in an organized way and according to directions. Medication mix-ups are an increasingly common cause of sudden changes in aging parents’ conditions, especially in this era of pervasive, nonstop medication marketing. Taking the wrong medication at the wrong time in the wrong dosage can lead to multiple problems that quickly snowball. When clients describe changes in a parent’s behavior, memory, speech patterns, or balance, our first suspect is a medication mix-up. Fortunately, when identified, the problem can be solved in a few days.

Listen

Listen means truly listening to your parents as you converse—not interrogating them because you’re worried, or imposing your own expectations. Listen for vague phrases or clichés that signal acceptance or resignation and that are repeated regardless of topic—terms such as “you know, same as ever,” or “can’t complain, I guess.” Do they use these phrases when you ask about a specific activity such as grocery shopping? Can they tell you what a specific medication is for, and who prescribed it? Sometimes people with diminishing mental faculties use this verbal technique, called masking, to hide their increasing confusion. If they are confused, that’s a problem you need to know about—although again, the holidays aren’t the best time to confront it.

To drive or not to drive—that is the most frequently mentioned concern when adult children go home. If it is clear that a parent poses a driving danger you’ll want to deal with that situation without delay—but with a clear understanding that these are among the fiercest of intergenerational family battles. If you don’t want to be the bad guy who takes away the keys—someone is going to have to be—try to find third-party help: their doctor, a family friend, or even the DMV and local police.
Pause

Pause means to give yourself a break and don’t panic if what you see at home alarms you. Resist being overwhelmed. Pause and have a serious talk with yourself or your spouse about the importance of being present, in the moment, and enjoying the holiday. Remind yourself that when you get home, you’ll begin to carve out a long-term plan, with your brothers and sisters. If the problems appear to be too many and too complex to handle yourself, consider seeking help from a reputable, experienced geriatric-care manager or consultant, who will bring objectivity and specialized knowledge into the picture.

About Aging Solutions

Mission Statement
To promote safe and appropriate caregiving by families and the community through education and advocacy; to renew a sense of responsibility and common sense while respecting, caring for, and protecting elder and disabled adults through education and advocacy.

Client-Centered Care Management

For the past fourteen years, Aging Solutions has been providing Client-Centered Care Management to elderly and disabled adults. That philosophy means maximizing the integration of community-based services at the local level. This minimizes the need to use the already overburdened health care system as the default resource in a client’s life.

The Client Centered Care Management model is a community-based approach that maximizes the use of all existing community resources while minimizing unnecessary utilization of the health care system. This model is one that is increasingly being recognized in the academic literature as valid, and of benefit to both health organizations and individuals.

Each client in the Client Centered Care Management model has a complex care team consisting of (1) a care manager who provides an onsite assessment and who interacts directly with the patient's doctors to clarify care issues and troubleshoot in support of the doctor’s treatment plan; (2) a non-clinical care coordinator, in charge of team activities and acting as a second liaison with the medical team; and (3) the client’s physician, who has ultimate authority over medical treatment. The ASI team does not itself provide medical treatment, therapies, or home care, or authorize or deny any medical services.

In many cases ASI acquires a new client during a crisis involving a significant change his or her health care or mental capacity. Once the client is situated securely and stabilized, he or she will experience a significant improvement in their quality of life under our coordinated care approach. Our approach is not only more salutary, it is usually more cost-effective for both the client and family and the local health-care system.

Well-executed Client-Centered Care Management organizes client care sufficiently to avoid unnecessary hospitalizations and emergency department (ED) visits. Client education will assist the client in making better life decisions in conjunction with their health care providers and support system so that utilization can be sharply reduced while quality of life is enhanced.

ASI’s Care Management Plan follows a social rather than medical model. This ensures that a client’s needs are being met utilizing existing community resources; it changes the dynamics of a client’s quality of life for the better with the benefit of a team of professionals; and it reduces the client’s need to use the traditional health care system. Visit: http://www.agingsolutions.com

About Terri Abelar

Since 1988, Aging Solutions’ founder and CEO, Terri Abelar, has been one of California’s leading consumer advocates helping older Americans. She has designed or helped design pioneering programs and services for seniors, and has given expert testimony on elder care issues to legislative committees in Sacramento and Washington, D.C. She has helped thousands of seniors and their adult children deal effectively with the emotionally draining issues that arise when seniors’ needs are changing and their need for services increases; she has also helped families recover millions of dollars in property and assets.

Her expertise on elder care issues is sought by medical and legal professionals and the media, and she is an effective and powerful speaker to groups on contemporary elder care and elder abuse issues. Before founding Aging Solutions, she was a social services supervisor at the Riverside County Office on Aging, where she specialized in elder abuse prevention, and helped develop The C.A.R.E. Program for interagency partnerships that in its first years, saved taxpayers millions of dollars. As part of California's insurance advocacy program for seniors, HICAP, she counseled and fought on behalf of seniors seeking benefits denied to them by managed care health corporations, and those baffled by Medicare’s ever-changing policies and rules. Visit: http://www.agingsolutions.com

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