Do Your Loved Ones Need Additional Assistance? Signs to Watch for this Holiday Season

by Jessica A. Hayes, Esq.

The holidays are rapidly approaching, meaning that many adult children will be returning home and spending time with their families. We often receive an increased number of phone calls around the holidays, because out-of-town children who do not see their parents and older family members on a regular basis find upon visiting with them that perhaps they require more assistance in their homes, or it is no longer safe for them to continue living there, or they need help handling their personal and financial affairs. Adult children who haven’t returned home in several months may be shocked to find that mom or dad is suddenly looking frail or the cleanliness of their home has declined.

If you plan to visit with older relatives this holiday season, one of the best things you can do for them is to be observant and recognize when additional assistance is needed. Take note if you observe any of the following:

  • Bruises or injuries. Has your loved one been falling in the home, and if so, are there safety features such as handrails or grab bars (for example, in the restroom) that may be installed to help? If the presence of those safety features would not be of much help, would it be more appropriate to live in a facility staffed 24/7?
  • Weight loss. Has your loved one lost a significant amount of weight since you last saw them? If so, have they seen a doctor recently? Weight loss can signify a health condition, either mental or physical, that may be best addressed by a physician.
  • Scarcity of food. Are the cupboards bare and the refrigerator empty? If so, is it because your loved one is having a hard time getting to the grocery store or preparing meals? A meal delivery service such as Meals on Wheels (http://www.mealsonwheelsamerica.org/) may be the answer.
  • Hygiene concerns. Is your loved one bathing infrequently, or wearing the same clothes on consecutive days? He may require additional assistance with bathing or dressing that can be addressed by a family member or friend, an in-home caregiver, or perhaps a move to a facility.
  • Financial troubles. Is your loved one financially strapped because they’re passing their time on the Home Shopping Network or being a little too generous to others? Or is it possible they’re being taken advantage of? Perhaps it’s time for a trusted family member or friend to assist with finances, or — in some cases — for the appointment of a conservator.
  • Lack of planning. Has your loved one put into writing his wishes in the event of death or incapacity? Has he identified individuals to help him with his financial and medical decisions or to wrap up his affairs after he’s gone? If your loved one has the ability to understand and make these decisions, now is the time to make sure the proper documents are in place.

Of course, these are just a few examples; you may observe your older family members experiencing any number of other difficulties. Take the opportunity to discuss your concerns with them and offer solutions for how to improve their quality of life. If you’re not sure where to begin, are concerned about how the discussion will be received, or need assistance brainstorming solutions, make an appointment with your local elder law attorney.

Kit Kat

Ask Kit Kat – Replacing Chains with Fences

Hook Law Center: Kit Kat, what can you tell us about the SPCA Grant to help dog owners replace chains with fences?

Kit Kat: Well, actually this is another great idea from the SPCA. The national ASPCA has sponsored other animal welfare groups across the country in providing supplies and replacing chains with fences in under-served areas without many other resources for animal assistance. For instance, the Coalition to Unchain Dogs, in Durham, NC received one such grant to help a newly-adopted dog in their area. The dog’s name is Sheba. She had been abandoned until a 14-year old boy named Marcus came to her rescue. Marcus and Sheba spent a great summer together, but when school started in the fall, he had to chain her up while he was at school. Marcus felt horrible about this arrangement, even though he had done all he could for her. He had bought a dog house and had placed toys and a bed inside it. He couldn’t stop worrying, though, that another dog might maul her or ,worse, that someone might steal her.

That’s when the Coalition to Unchain Dogs stepped in and solved the problem, with help from the national ASPCA. The Coalition saw to it that Sheba got vaccinated, spayed, and erected a fence in the backyard for her. Now she is happy as can be in a safe and secure home with a family that adores her. Thanks to these 2 agencies working together, aide was funneled to the right recipient! (ASPCA Action, Fall 2015, p. 4)

Upcoming Seminars

  • November 16, 2015 – Hook Law Center Seminar Series continues with Jessica Hayes speaking on “Estate Planning for Your Brady Bunch” in regards to planning for your second marriages. Register here for the seminar in Virginia Beach at 10am at the Crowne Plaza Hotel – Virginia Beach Towne Center, 4453 Bonney Road, Virginia Beach, VA  23462.
  • November 19, 2015 – Hook Law Center Seminar Series continues with Jessica Hayes speaking on “Estate Planning for Your Brady Bunch” in regards to planning for your second marriages. Register here for the seminar in Suffolk at 10am at the Hilton Garden Inn – Harbour View Suffolk, 5921 Harbour View Blvd, Suffolk, VA 23435.

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