LOS ANGELES, CA--(Marketwire - Nov 19, 2012) - Beginning with Thanksgiving and continuing through New Year's millions of adult children visit their aging parents. They've been talking by phone all year being told everything is fine. But, once they arrive, it is obvious that all is not well.
"The holidays are an ideal time to take an aging parental reality check," suggests Jesse Slome, director of the American Association for Long Term Care Insurance, the national trade group focused on educating consumers about the importance of planning. "Those who can't regularly look in on aging family members should use seasonal visits to help aging parents maintain their independence as long as possible."
Holiday visits are an excellent opportunity to assess the health of a loved one, to address home safety issues and to discuss important planning issues. "Difficult discussions are best started in a face-to-face setting because they are seldom one-shot conversations," Slome acknowledges.
Some tips when visiting older loved ones this holiday season:
Check the home environment. Look for unopened mail, especially unpaid bills. Address safety issues such as loose rugs or exposed extension cords that could result in falls. Take note if space heaters are used to minimize fire hazards.
Observe if the parent has lost weight. Check the refrigerator and pantry to see if there is outdated or spoiled food.
Write down important information including the make, model and license plate of the parent's car. That way, if it is gone, you'll have the information accessible to share with the police.
Prepare a list of medications being taken and the physician contact information. Make a list of important local resources such as plumbers or electricians should repair issues arise.
Post emergency numbers by the phone for ease of retrieval should the parent need them.
Ask if the parent has prepared advanced health directives and know where they keep copies. If they own long term care insurance protection write down the policy number and claim department contact information. According to an Association study some eight million Americans have long term care insurance coverage and the number of people calling insurers with questions about their policy benefits increases by roughly 15 percent immediately following the holidays.
"Many older Americans eventually need some hands-on assistance," Slome explains. "The holidays are often the time of year when families recognize that eventually has arrived."
The American Association for Long Term Care Insurance is the national trade organization established in 1998 to create awareness regarding the importance of planning for long term care. For free guides outlining ways to reduce long term care insurance costs visit the Association's website.