It seems that we always get more referrals this time of year – the weeks between Thanksgiving and the New Year. We attribute it to younger family members seeing their aging parents or grandparents, and realizing their loved one could benefit from home delivered meals.
Mayo Clinic has a good article “Aging Parents: 7 warning signs of health problems” that provides useful suggestions and action steps for those who are starting to care for aging family members or friends. Below is a quick overview:
1. Are your aging parents taking care of themselves. We, including our volunteers, pay attention to our clients’ appearance – has there been a change in how they’re caring for themselves and their home? Is there heat? Is the yard overgrown? Are they able to clear snow/ice from their driveway and stairs to the house?
2. Are your aging parents experiencing memory loss? We all occasionally forget things. But there’s a difference between normal memory loss and that associated with types of dementia. Misplaced keys, glasses, and other items are “normal’. Getting lost in familiar neighborhoods is more concerning.
3. Are your aging parents safe in their home?
4. Are your aging parents safe on the road?
5. Have your aging parents lost weight? Weight loss can be attributed to difficulty cooking, loss of taste/smell or underlying health conditions such as depression, malnutrition, or cancer.
6. Are your aging parents in good spirits? What is their mood like? Have there been any changes? Depression and anxiety are not part of normal aging; they can be treated at any age.
7. Are your aging parents able to get around? Are they unsteady on their feet? Is it difficult for them to use stairs? Have they decreased their physical activity?
Programs like Ann Arbor Meals on Wheels can help if your loved one is having difficulty preparing meals due to physical and emotional health problems. The visit by the volunteer who delivers the meal also serves as a wellness or safety check. We contact you if there concerns and can make referrals for support services.
For more information about eligibility visit http://www.med.umich.edu/aamealsonwheels/mealmakereferal.html.