“Home for the Holidays” takes on a new meaning when you walk into your parents’ home, and it’s filthy. They never raised you to leave opened food jars out or throw your clothes on the floor, but all of a sudden, all these things are happening at your parents’ house.
Your first thought is probably that your holiday’s been ruined, but that thought is quickly replaced with concern for your parents.
What do you do? It’s the holidays! Nothing’s open! It’s not as if you can go to your parents’ doctor or call a counselor. You’re not even sure what’s causing this. Nothing has prepared you for such a situation.
Unfortunately, you’re not the first adult child who has experienced such a situation. Fortunately, there’s a way to assess your parents’ health and safety to determine if you need to take immediate action.
- Are the holiday lights up or are there holiday decorations?
- Is the yard clear of debris?
- Are the handrails next to steps secure?
- Is there a shovel or rock salt near the front door?
- Are storm windows in place?
- Are the garage and other exterior doors shut?
- Are exterior lights working?
- Is the front walk shoveled if it’s been snowing?
- Is the interior of the home decorated for the season?
- Is there a bathroom on the ground floor?
- Is your parents’ bedroom on the ground floor?
- Are all rugs and carpets secured to the floor?
- Have throw rugs been removed?
- Is it easy to walk throughout the house without stepping over or bumping into something?
- Are the dishes washed and put away?
- Has the trash been taken out?
- Is the home clean?
- If they have a pet, is it in good shape?
- Are the smoke alarms working?
- Is there food in the refrigerator?
- Is the refrigerator fairly clean without moldy food?
- Are your parents dressed appropriately for the weather?
- Is their hair brushed?
- Does it look as if their teeth have been cleaned recently?
- If their dentures are out, are they clean?
- Has your father shaved?
- Are their clothes clean?
- Have their nails been trimmed recently?
- Are your parents approximately the same weight as the last time you saw them?
- Are your parents walking without stumbling or shuffling?
If you were unable to check two items in any category, your parents may be experiencing problems that need to be dealt with immediately.
AARP has a much more exhaustive checklist to use if your initial assessment indicates your parents need help.
If your parents need help immediately during a holiday:
- Contact local family and friends for advice and contact information.
- Call their doctor. Doctors usually have an emergency number.
- Contact a nearby hospital, explain the situation and ask for advice. Many hospitals have a 24-hour Ask-A-Nurse program.
- Call a nearby assisted living community and ask for advice. If worse comes to worse, you can take your parents there temporarily for a short stay while you get everything in the home shipshape.
Plan for the future
This problem is not going to go away. Instead of waiting for the next holiday, the next emergency situation, or the next trip to the emergency room, consider alternatives. The eBook is called “How to Persuade Your Aging Parents to Consider Assisted Living”. Self-serving as the title may appear, it has excellent advice on how to talk to your parents about changing their living conditions. Besides, it’s free, so what do you have to lose?