Home for the Holidays By: Heather O’Brien

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The holiday season is often the one chance families have to spend time with loved ones that they are unable to see throughout the year. There is a growing trend for Long Distance Caregiving. The family unit does not always stay close together geographically, as they did in the past, and we often have to rely on the telephone or other forms of technology to keep in touch. Since this is the time of year when we may be traveling to see loved ones we are not able to visit on a regular basis, changes in a loved one may be more prevalent, and this can often lead to family discussions about the care and well being of older family members.

We like to take this opportunity each year to remind caregivers of warning signs that assistance may be needed:

* Change in eating habits, including weight gain/loss or change in appetite
* Neglected personal hygiene
* Lack of or decrease of home maintenance
* Mobility difficulty, general weakness, or forgetfulness
* Decrease in participation in activities previously important to them

* Unusual display of unopened mail, piling newspapers, missed appointments, and/or unfilled prescriptions
* Mishandled finances such as not paying bills or losing money
* Unusual purchases such as buying more than one magazine subscription of the same magazine, entered an unusual amount of contests, and/or increased usage of purchasing from television advertisements

If you notice any of these warning signs when visiting a loved one, or if you would simply like assistance in planning for a loved one’s future needs, a geriatric care manager can help your family in developing a care plan for your specific situation. Community resources can be identified and put in place, including transportation, medication management, and other in home supports. Planning for the future today will help to ensure many happy holidays for years to come.

In light of the cold weather, this is a good time to remind caregivers to contact their older loved ones regularly. Make sure they have an emergency supply of medication, food and water, and that they are able to stay warm. If you are traveling, be sure to take along blankets, water, flares, cat litter or something for traction, and keep your cell phone charged at all times. Also remember to keep windshield wiper fluid filled at all times.

We also want to remind caregivers not to neglect themselves during this busy season. The holidays are so often about thinking of others, about showing love and appreciation for the people who are most important to you. Don’t forget to honor and appreciate yourself in the process!!

The compassionate staff at St. Andrew’s Senior Solutions serves and supports older adults and their families by providing respite care, care management, and nursing services. For more information call 314-726-5766, toll free 1-888-388-1930 or caringinfo@standrews1.com.

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