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Christmas with Grandma and Grandpa

Christmas with Grandma and Grandpa

Many children and grandchildren will soon enjoy the Christmas holiday time with Grandma and Grandpa. The grandkids can rip open their presents and everyone can enjoy their glee. Along with the pleasure of being together this time can also afford adult children, who cannot regularly visit with elderly parents, to observe if the usual patterns of life have changed. The changes may be subtle or stark.

Observe if the house is still orderly and critical items stored in logical places. Are medicine bottles kept together, or are they strewn about the house? Is mail piling up, or are there bills that do not appear to have been paid? Is there moldy food in the refrigerator? Are the clothes they are wearing clean and neat? The list could be endless but the point is to make mental notes of the changes in their habits and living conditions that might indicate their ability to care for themselves has declined. Gentle questions at opportune moments might give you a clearer look into any decline in their mental or physical capabilities. 

With this knowledge, the children and grandchildren can look carefully at the grandparents living situation, and abilities, and think about small or large changes to help ensure the grandparents can continue to live safely at home.

At the risk of repeating myself over the years, some things to look for are as follows: can they move around the house with little or no need to use stairs? Do they have throw rugs instead of wall to wall carpeting or bare floors? Since falling is probably the single biggest reason people end up needing long term care, living in a home with few or no stairs and no throw rugs limits that risk. Single floor living can be a lifesaver. If you perceive a risk of falling, discuss it then and there if the timing is right, or make a mental note to have that talk at a better time.

If taking medications correctly and on time could be a problem, consider a pill dispensing machine that drops the pills into a tray at the designated time and then beeps or signals that it is time to take the pill. Some machines can even notify you if the pills have not been taken from the machine. Some machines will even take back the pills if not taken within a reasonable time, to avoid the chance of overmedicating.

A more subtle matter is to discern if there is not enough social interaction with others, especially if only one parent or grandparent is surviving. If so, it may be time to suggest an apartment or an assisted living facility. My own mother decided to sell her house and move to an apartment, both to save money and to have friends down the hall. When that was no longer possible, she moved to an independent living facility and put on eight pounds in two weeks because she was eating and socializing with others for every meal.

Another subject to broach with parents or grandparents if you don’t already know for sure, is whether they have current wills, powers or attorney, living wills and HIPAA forms. If not, that can be the most critical thing to discuss, because if either one cannot sign for himself or herself, it is absolutely necessary for them to choose who they want to make financial and medical decisions for them. Otherwise it may be necessary to go to court to get that done, which adds time and expense. Encouraging them to have those critical documents in place can be the best Christmas present you could give. Happy Holidays to all the generations in your families!
Attorneys Stephen O. Allaire (Of Counsel) and Halley C. Allaire are partners in the law firm of Allaire Elder Law.
Attorneys Stephen O. Allaire (Of Counsel) and Halley C. Allaire are members of the National Academy of Elder Law. Attorneys, Inc.
Allaire Elder Law is a highly respected, and highly rated law firm with offices in Bristol, CT.
We can be contacted by phone at (860) 259-1500 or by email.

If you have a question, send a written note to us and we may use your question in a future column.




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logo-blue Christmas with Grandma and Grandpa - Allaire Elder Law

elder-law-guide-button Christmas with Grandma and Grandpa - Allaire Elder Law