By Beth Dow, Home Helpers of GA & AL

You recently visited family for the holidays and had a great time, but can’t shake this nagging feeling that things just didn’t seem right with your aging loved one. You live miles away. Is there anything you can do to help?

Yes. If you have a “gut” feeling that things aren’t right, go with your gut. Get your thoughts down on paper. What was it that didn’t seem right? Once you get them down, organize them from “most cause for concern” and “least cause for concern.”

The “most cause for concern” will be things like medication errors. Did you notice the medications being messed up; out of date; did they mention missing doses? Another “most” concern, would be over driving. Did you notice dents and scrapes on the car? Did you ride with your loved one and was terrified?

And, did you notice lots of expired food in the refrigerator or did your loved one look as if they had lost weight since the last time you saw them?

Next, a little research. Find out what type of senior services are available in their area. Check for services from the local Area Agency for Aging. Look for senior centers. Many senior centers not only provide transportation and socialization, but one meal or more a day. You also need to check for senior housing. What is available and what are the costs and advantages.

Does the area have a gerontologist and an elder law attorney? These folks specialize in the needs of the senior citizen and are better able to help with their needs than a regular general practitioner or lawyer.

If you don’t have time to do this research, find a local Geriatric Case Manager. They will not only do the ground work for you, but will help you build a plan for your aging loved one and even help you present the plan to them.

The key here is to address your concerns, and not chalk it up to their aging. Just because you may live miles away, does not mean that you can’t help. You can help them to live a better, more independent life by addressing your concerns now. A present concern often turns into a future crisis. A future crisis that can be reduced or eliminated altogether. Saying nothing, is not the answer.

For more help on how to start the conversation or to help figure out what is needed, contact Beth at