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The Caregiversí Journey

Saturday, December 22nd, 2012
Issue 51, Volume 16.
Marsha Kay Seff
Special to the Valley News

While opening presents this holiday season, you might be in for a disquieting surprise: your beloved parents are slipping.

This is a common time for adult children to discover that, despite short phone calls and visits, parents have been hiding failing memories and health. Welcome to the world of care giving. But donít panic; you will find lots of support from the one in four adult children who have already joined the ranks.

With some planning, you can offer your parents a gift they werenít expecting. Sometimes, a little intervention and help from you or a professional are enough to ensure their independence and accustomed lifestyle for a while longer.

So while youíre partying, notice red flags that signal it might be time to step in:

The house is in disarray and there is spoiled food in the fridge.

The mail has piled up and bills have gone unpaid.

Your mom has worn the same dress, or your dad the same shirt, for days.

Your parents have been ignoring long-time friends and activities.

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medicine cabinet is full of expired prescriptions.

Your mom or dad keeps repeating stories, but canít recall what they did this morning.

Your parent is calling family by the wrong names. (Well, weíve all been there; this, in itself, isnít cause for too much alarm.)

Your mom has forgotten old family recipes.

Mom forgot to cook the turkey and itís still frozen. (Well, maybe this isnít catastrophic, either. In fact, I nailed my first turkey shut and didnít remember to look for the nails till everyone had finished eating. We never found them.)

Recognizing the problem is a start. You might offer to help their pay bills, set up medical appointments and drive to them, or hire a maid or professional caregiver. Just donít let the realization of changes interfere with your holiday fun. This is a great time to make as many new memories as possible.

Sponsored by Right at Home Care & Assistance,, (951) 506-9628,;, (760) 690-1147, Contact Marsha Kay Seff at



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