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When is it time to step in to help the aging?


Last updated 11/8/2007 at Noon

When is it time to step in to help our aging parents and grandparents? We hope that if our parents or older loved ones need help, they’ll ask for it.

But it may be difficult for them to admit their declining abilities: they may even be ashamed of needing help or may deny their problems because they don’t want to become a ‘burden.’

It can be a delicate balance to help our loved ones without damaging their dignity or self-esteem.

Changes in family dynamics can be upsetting for everyone. Unless an obvious emergency situation occurs, it can sometimes be difficult to know what – if anything – to do.

The answer to the following questions may help you decide whether to continue to simply keep an eye on things or become actively involved in taking care of your loved one.

• Are you comfortable knowing that your loved one is living alone, or are you waiting for the phone to ring, constantly worried about him or her?

• Have you noticed changes in his or her grooming, eating, activity level or social interactions?

• How is your father’s memory? Is he simply a little forgetful sometimes, or does he get lost going to the store or finding his way home? Does he become easily frustrated or angry? Does he still have good judgment, or are you afraid he would be an easy mark for a con artist?

• Is your mother able to care for herself physically? Does she go out with friends or family, or is she increasingly reluctant to leave the house? Can she make reasonable financial decisions?

• Is your grandfather able to keep track of his medications and take them properly, or has he become ill because of making a mistake with medications?

• Is your grandmother able to perform activities of daily living such as bathing, dressing, getting out of bed or up from chairs, going to the bathroom, cooking and housework?

If you believe that your loved one’s health or safety is at risk then it’s time to step in. In the Western States, Professional Geriatric Care Managers can be found at

Innovative Healthcare Consultants is happy to answer questions at (877) 731-1442.


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