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Beginning with Thanksgiving and continuing through the New Year’s holiday, millions of adult Mom_and_Daughter_Boomer_Smallchildren will be spending time with their aging parents. They’ve been talking by phone and send emails all year being told everything is fine. However, once they arrive, it quickly becomes clear that all is not well. 

“Holiday visits with your parents and loved ones is the ideal time to take an aging parental reality check,” recommends Jesse Slome, director of the American Association for Long Term Care Insurance. “It's especially important if you are not regularly looking in on your aging family members.”

Visits during this time of the year provide an opportunity to evaluate the health of a loved one,  "You owe it to the people you love to address home safety issues and to discuss important planning matters," Slome advises.  “These can be difficult discussions and so a face-to-face setting is best. These are seldom one-shot conversations so you may need to handle the conversation taking things one step at a time.”

Here are some tips from the Association for taking advantage of your visits with older loved ones:

  • Check the home environment. Look around for unopened mail, and especially any unpaid bills. Be sure to address hazards and safety issues such as loose area rugs or wires such as extension cords that can result in falls.
  • Evaluate or ask if the parent lost weight. Take a look at expiration dates in the pantry or refrigerator. Be especially watchful for spoiled food.
  • Don't leave for home until you have written down important information including the license plate of the parent’s car. If it goes missing or there is a problem, you'll want to have this information to share with the police.
  • Also, don't leave before you've prepared a list of medications and your parents' physician contact information. If you live more than a few hours drive from your loved ones, start a list of local resources such as plumbers or electricians should home or apartment repair issues arise.
  • Ask if the parent has prepared any advanced health directives and know where they keep copies. If they own long term care insurance protection be sure to write down the policy number and claim department contact information.   

Doing this will leave both you and your loved ones feeling better equipped to handle the year to come. Happy holidays to all.