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Starting the Dialogue with Your Aging Parents: Odds and Ends

November 4, 2013

I apologize for not posting anything on the blog for the past two or three weeks. Sometimes events occur and we just have to go with the flow. I hope you will continue to read the blog and share ideas on what you’d like to see addressed. This post will not be devoted to one topic, but will touch on a number of different current items that impact the health status of aging adults and therefore might need your intervention with your parents or other elders you may be assisting.

Last month I posted a few blogs about Medicare Part A and B and discussed the open enrollment period. Despite that, there are still many asking if they need to sign up or do something about the new health care marketplace. In answer  I will once again state that if you are a Medicare beneficiary you do not need to engage with the health care marketplace regardless of what state you live in.The same goes for your aging parents or elderly clients.

That being said, all Medicare beneficiaries should have received their 2014 version of Medicare and You in the mail around the first week in October. If for some reason it wasn’t received, or if you would like your own copy you can download a PDF file and print it out or call your local Social Security office and ask them to mail you a copy. This is a free publication and has useful information for anyone receiving Medicare or helping their parents with understanding the fees, deductibles, co-pays, and free services associated with the various Medicare plans.

Food Stamp benefits were a hot topic this past week. When the economy took major hits a few years ago Food Stamp benefits were increased temporarily. As of Nov. 1st the increase has been removed and benefits lowered for many recipients.  If your parents are on a fixed income and receive food stamps they may not be prepared for the reduction. Please review food budgets them and make sure they are not missing meals.

Tomorrow is Election Day for various positions in towns, cities, and counties. This is a golden opportunity to engage your parents in conversation about events from the past, their views and opinions on how things have changed, and what their feelings are about the candidates. It is amazing how much can be learned by engaging in a conversation on these topics. Since we are not involved in a national election the politics aren’t as heated (in most cases) and rationale dialogue is easier to engage in.

I don’t need to tell you that the seasons are changing. We set our clocks back an hour this past weekend which indicates that colder weather is on it’s way. No matter what part of the United states you live in this means cooler temperatures. If your aging parents live in a region where there are extremes in temperature please assist them in making sure their homes are as warm and cozy as possible.

This can mean sealing windows with plastic, checking that the weather-stripping around doors is not cracked or missing, plugging any holes, and covering air conditioning units or swamp coolers. Of course there are a multitude of tasks to be done to winterize a home or apartment and this is an opportunity for you to assist without causing a fuss. Aging parents may not be able to ambulate so easily any more so assisting them in turning the mattress and putting out freshly laundered blankets on the bed can make a daunting task for them so much easier. Removing the screens, washing them, and replacing with storm windows is another task that is necessary, but often too much for an elderly person to manage alone.

The pattern I am laying out for you hear is ways to engage without dealing with the heavy issues surrounding financial, legal, or end of life decisions. This is simply every day interaction in a manner that promotes conversation and bonding. Once the chores have been done sit down and enjoy a cup of coffee, a warm autumn meal, or a cocktail while playing a board game or some cards. Have some fun.

What type of activities do you engage in with your aging parents? Feel free to share your stories and questions in the comments section.

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