Starting the Dialogue with Aging Parents: The To-Do List
This most likely doesn’t come as a newsflash to anyone living in the United States, or other parts of the Northern Hemisphere: Winter is fast approaching and that means a myriad of tasks in preparation. For those advancing in years these tasks can be overwhelming and daunting.
So let’s look at a list of things that everyone needs to address as winter approaches and maybe you can see some things that you aging parents may need assistance with.
- What’s the winter heat source? If a wood stove or fireplace plays a part someone needs to make sure there is enough wood to burn.
- How is the wood to be obtained? Some can pick up the phone and order it delivered already cut, split, and stacked.
- For those who can’t afford to call and have it delivered etc. (which is now running about $180 a cord in my area of rural Idaho) then arrangements need to be made to get out in the woods and get it cut and hauled down to the home.
- How about windows and doors? Are they sealed tight or leaking warm air out allowing cold air in? Checking the weather-stripping and applying new where needed can save lots of money on utility bills as well as discomfort for those who can no longer tolerate the cold as easily as when they were younger.
- Speaking of windows and doors it’s time to remove the screens, get them cleaned up and put up the storm windows. This task is best done now so the dirt and grime isn’t accumulated over the winter. Wrapping the screens in paper, plastic bags, or old sheets will keep the dust and cobwebs off of them until they need to be rehung next spring.
- How’s the snow shovel? Is it in good working order?
- Is ice melt needed for stairs and slippery areas? Try something non-toxic to the summer landscape.
- How about the car? Have the snow tires been checked and an appointment made for them to be put on the vehicle? Is the radiator winter ready? Windshield wiper fluid? When was the last tune-up. Oh, and don’t forget the brakes.
- Do your parents have warm winter clothing and blankets on the bed?
- Is there an adequate stock of food in case of power outages and the need to stay in for a few days.
- What about candles, matches, water, first aid supplies.
Now that I’ve got you thinking we need to address who will take care of the items on the list if you live some distance from your parents? Obviously if you live close you can take on these tasks or at least discuss them with your parents. The chores can be spread out over a number of weeks as your schedule allows.
But if you live some distance away and won’t be seeing them for some time who will get all of these things done? The best place to start is by talking with your parents and seeing what they feel they can handle themselves. If they are old, frail, sickly, or for some other reason unable to take care of the items start exploring options.
Here are a few ideas to think about and talk with your parents regarding ways to get the chores done for the least amount of hassle and cost.
- Are there other family members closer who might be able to step in and assist?
- Are your parents active in a church or other organization that might be able to assist or point you in the direction of someone who could help out?
- Is there money available to pay someone privately to perform the tasks. You might also consider temporarily hiring a home care agency to check in every few days and provide assistance as needed.
- Boy Scouts and other service agencies often have volunteer projects that need to be completed in order to advance in rank. Maybe something could be worked out and your parents adopted as a human services project.
Hopefully this post has given you some ideas on how to deal with items that need to be addressed as the cold weather approaches. Remember, the same items will need to be addressed next year so don’t look at this as simply a short-term fix. You need to talk with your parents and develop plans that are acceptable to both them and yourself for now and the future.
Do you have some hints to share on this topic. If so, please feel free to leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you!