Q: I had the opportunity to spend time with my parents over the holiday season and could see them getting older. They are in their late 80s and just moving slower and cutting back on their activities.

Q: I had the opportunity to spend time with my parents over the holiday season and could see them getting older. They are in their late 80s and just moving slower and cutting back on their activities.


I find myself worrying about what care will they need, how will it get provided and where they will go if they cannot live at home any more. I am an only child who does not live near my parents and if one of my parents goes to the hospital, I just do not know what to do. Any ideas?


A: Living out of state and being an only child are very good reasons to put together a plan of scenarios in case one of your parents becomes ill. It is always good to have a plan in place. When someone becomes ill emotions take over and it is difficult to think objectively. Now is the time to be objective and put together that plan.


To begin, if your parents will discuss with you what they would want and their thoughts about it, it will make it much easier for you to have a plan. Tell your parents that you worry about them as you are a distance away.


Ask them if they have thought about where they would want to go for rehabilitation following a hospitalization. Maybe they have spoken with friends or visited friends at various facilities and have a preference. If they have a facility in mind, store that information away. If they do not have that information then consider speaking with a geriatric care manager local to your parents.


The geriatric care manager is familiar with facilities and can not only discuss this with you but can also help you bringing help into the home, visiting your parents and providing you with a detailed report of how things are going, and being available when/if their health changes. Discuss with the geriatric care manager their availability, the services they provide, the on-call emergency availability and their fee structure. Compare geriatric care managers and have the name of someone who can step in as needed.


In addition, you need to know about your parents' finances and insurance information. If you are able to have this discussion with your parents now, when life changes you will be prepared.


Q: My mother denies that she needs help, but when I spent time visiting and talking with my siblings, we all agreed that our mother is getting older and can not do what she did even one year ago. Can you describe to me some warning signs to indicate when children need to step in and take over?


A: Some signs to indicate that your mother may need more help is to ask yourself: does she look frail, is her memory not as sharp as last year, is there food spoilage in the refrigerator, is she not as neat and well groomed as normal, is the mail piling up (or, if the mail is always piled up, is the pile higher than normal), are there dings in her car, is she holding on to furniture when she walks, and is she preparing meals and cleaning the house as she did last year.


Each of us comes from our own vantage point when looking at our parents. This is the time to talk with your siblings and put together a plan using each of your strengths. For example, if one sibling is a better money manager than the others, that person may be the right one to handle the finances. If one person is able to take mom to medical appointments and manage the medical piece, then that is the sibling for that role.


Most importantly, remember your mother's opinion counts and she needs to be part of the plan. Ask your mother what she wants and respect her choices. Children want to help but it is important to remember your mother is the final decision maker as long as she is able to make her own decisions. If you would like additional information on this subject, visit http://bit.ly/fGxZd3.


Send questions to SeniorSavvy@ElderCareResourceServices.com or ElderCare Resources Inc., 29 Gano Road, Marlborough, MA 01752, or call them at 508-879-7008.


ElderCare Resource Services is a partnership of geriatric nurses and social workers that helps families to investigate, assess and recommend medical and non-medical care and resources for seniors.


MetroWest Daily News