The starting point of this journey will be different for everyone. You may have noticed quickly that your loved one is in need of assistance or they could have spent a decade hiding it from you. If your situation resembles the latter, you could be in for some surprises. These surprises could include:
- Hoarding, sometimes for years
- Spoiled food
- Unsanitary living conditions
- Unopened parcels from online, mail in, or phone in purchases
- Medication not being taken properly
- Poor banking or financial choices
- Evidence your loved one has been the victim of fraud (unaccounted for credit card charges or bank withdrawals, unknown phone numbers, strange purchases, or unexpected phone charges). Con artists are always coming up with a new scam and elderly people are often easy targets.
To the right, you'll find a printable list you can use to get started. It is by no means comprehensive and will likely include things that don't pertain to you, but it's a good start.
This printable sheet contains a monthly checklist, weekly checklist, and an every time you leave checklist. There is also space to write unique items for your situation. The idea is, if you stay organized week to week and month to month, you should never have to go back to the getting started list. Again, use this as a starting point, but adapt it to fit your needs.
Medical Information Labels & Information Sheet
If your loved one is ever in need of assistance and you are not there, it will be helpful to friends, neighbors, police, or paramedics to have quick access to personal and medical information. The label file contains printables to stick on your doors visible to the outside. It is formatted to let you print on Avery 5664 shipping labels or you can just print on regular paper and adhere them yourself. I've left them as a MS Word file so you can make adjustments if need be. These will let people know where to find the medical information sheet.
The information sheet itself will be hung on the inside of the front door. You really don't want to broadcast to anyone passing by the vulnerabilities of your loved one, so having a sticker point to the sheet is an extra safety precaution. If you need more space, feel free to add a second page or create your own. This is a general form to let you know the kind of information that should be accessible.
You will need two calendars. One is for you and could just be part of your regular paper or electronic day planner. The other is to keep in a visible place in your loved one's home. If possible, that calendar should have large squares and writing, a desktop calendar is ideal because it shows the whole month but has ample writing space. When ever you enter a reminder on your calendar, enter it on the second one as well. Following a calendar daily with help your aging loved one to stay more grounded with time. It will also let them know what is happening day to day, or count down to your next visit. It will also give you an early indication if there is cognitive decline beginning. Watch for confusion over appointments or what day it is. Have your loved one cross out the days as they pass to give a more concrete idea of time and also to create routine. If possible, sit down and do your calendars together once per month, then update as things pop up.
What should you include?
- Your visits (can add each time you leave so they know when you are coming back)
- Appointments (of any kind)
- Prescription refills
- Shopping Trips
- Visits with family or friends
- Birthdays & other holidays
- Planned TV shows (adds structure)
- To do items (adds structure)
- Keep track of daily routines (neurobics, puzzles, exercise)
- If pertinent, you may keep track of appetite or sleep habits