I work with some older adults who continue to live in their homes. Their children are not in the area and I help manage the day-to-day finances as well as minimize their exposure to elder fraud. I get to know both my client and their children and I watch them going through many of the issues my family faced.
Recently, I got a text from the daughter of one of my clients. Her dad (who has some mild cognitive issues) told her that someone was moving in with him on the following day so he was busy getting ready for his new roommate. As you might imagine, she was a little concerned that her dad had rented out his home, and she didn’t know about it. I remember those days when your loved one is so convincing! Is it the truth or is it just something they believe to be the truth?
I found not being able to tell the fact from the fiction incredibly disconcerting. Even after my mom was living in the assisted living and there were more eyes on her, I still didn’t necessarily know if what she said about her day was true. I learned to go along with it instead of pummeling her with 20 questions.
The hardest stage of my parents care was when they were still in their home. Most people want to stay there, but as a loved one watching them wobble on their feet, miss bill payments, or sign predatory home improvement contracts, it was hard to witness, We faced all of those issues.
There are some simple things you can do and it’s relative to the health and fitness of your loved one. A few ideas for some peace of mind:
- Challenge them with a fitbit. If you could get your loved one to wear the device, you could actually see if they are up and about and how much they are moving every day.
- Get a fall monitor. There are pendants and wrist bands. Some you have to press a button and others have someone call you is they sense a fall. Unfortunately, if there is a head injury, no one is going to press the button, so I would opt for an option that calls you.
- Install door alarms. Thank you Mary Smith who shared that they installed door alarms to the front and back doors so that when a door was opened, they would get a phone call.
- Find a friendly visitor. There are many volunteer and low-cost programs that will send someone to visit your loved one in their home. It would be ideal to have someone check-in with them once a day.
- Consider hiring a personal care assistant. The biggest issue is isolation. Hiring someone to come in and engage with your loved one can help give you a break from the daily worry.
- Get a roommate. In my town, we are working on a homesharing program where we would match a young professional or college student with an older homeowner. Ideally, you don’t want to start this if there is a cognitive issue, but matching professionals who can’t afford to rent in our town with single homeowners who are living in 3,000 square foot homes alone seems like a win-win.
- Contact a local daily money manager. Most of my clients are a result of a conversation with mom or dad after bills are missed or checks are bouncing because they are double-paying invoices. There are some simple ways to let mom or dad stay independent and work with someone who can help them manage the day-to-day issues.
- Hire an Aging Life Care Manager. If there are complicated health issues or mild cognitive impairment, it will be helpful to have someone who can jump in and assist should there be an acute issue, especially if you live out of town.
On my wish list is a refrigerator monitor that can easily be added to everyone’s home. If the door isn’t opened by a time you set, you would get an alert to contact your loved one.
Are there other options out there that have given you peace of mind? Let me know. Appreciated.