Checking on Older Loved Ones

January 11, 2019

In recent weeks, you may have seen older family members for the first time in a while. The holidays bring families together and allow you to catch up with loved ones. After the excitement of the holiday season, it’s encouraged to use the time with your family as an opportunity to check in on older family members and reassess their needs and how you can help them live comfortably.

For those of you who identify as a senior, or who have older loved ones, you are probably already familiar with the phrase “Aging in Place.” For most seniors, the best way to age is to continue living comfortably in their current homes and communities, with in home supports when needed. At the Capitol, I work every year to protect services such as the Connecticut Home Care Program and Meals on Wheels which help people age in place. Avoiding expensive nursing home institutionalization saves people and taxpayers money over the long term, and it also allows seniors to continue living with independence, dignity and comfort in their own homes for as long as possible.

However, when a loved one is aging in place their family should always remember the importance of checking in on them to make sure they have the level of support they need to care for themselves on a daily basis. Sometimes a person’s physical and mental health status can change rapidly or unexpectedly. If this is a person who you don’t see on an everyday basis, now is a good time to consider ways you can help them if you think their needs may have changed.

AARP specifically recommends checking on the following five items this time of year:

  1. Home – Does your loved one’s home meet their needs for safety and quality of life? Are there any safety hazards, clutter, or modifications such as handrails that need to be examined?
  2. Safety – Are they able to access or utilize transportation to get safely where they need to go on time – such as to the grocery store or doctors’ offices? Are there any driving issues that concern you such as new dents on a car?
  3. Health – Are they going to the doctor, taking their medications, exercising and eating well?
  4. Finances – Does your loved one have their financial information organized? Are bills getting paid? Is there any way they can better organize their paperwork or finances to make life easier?
  5. Support System – Do they have nearby friends or family they can call in case of an emergency? Do they socialize or are they isolated?

At the end of the day, we all want our older loved ones to live happily and independently. These questions should not be seen as intrusive, but rather serve as a reminder that we need to be vigilant and ready to help when help is truly needed.

If you have questions or think your loved one needs assistance you can view available state services here: ct.gov/agingservices. The Southwestern Connecticut Area Agency on Aging can also offer guidance online at swcaa.org or by calling 203-333-9288. Always feel free to contact my office as well at Kevin.Kelly@cga.ct.gov or call 800-842-1421.