Life Essentials| Part Two: Determining the Needs of an Aging Loved One


LIFE ESSENTIALS :: Part Two: Mobility & Medical Needs 

It can be difficult for many people to see their aging family members and loved ones change over time. Unfortunately, for many families it takes a crisis, like a fall, to make them aware of their parent’s circumstances. It is important to watch for signs of new needs and assess those changes on a regular basis to maximize safety and make sure they are free to enjoy their lives. Seeing those changes and facing them begins with knowing what to look for and asking the right questions. This three part Sound Options series, breaks down the important topics you should be looking at and lists the important questions you should be asking:

Tips for Planning Care:

  • Gather all the facts
  • Understand preferences
  • Prioritize
  • What financial resources are needed?
  • Family involvement?
  • Professional help?

PART TWO: Mobility & Medical Needs 

Mobility & Activity

  • Does your family member engage in regular physical activity?
  •  Does he/she have vision issues?
  • Can he/she safely and independently:
  1. Reach overhead (e.g., to take something out of a cupboard)
  2. Bend to pick up an object from the floor
  3. Carry a cup of coffee, a bowl of soup, or a plate of food
  4. If your family member uses an assistive device, such as a walker or a cane, does he/she use it correctly?
  •  Can he/she safely and independently:
  1. Get in and out of bed
  2. Get in and out of a chair
  3. Walk on a level surface
  4. Step over a low curb
  5. Step over the side of a bathtub
  6. Walk up and down stairs

Medical Issues

  • Is your loved one receiving regular, routine medical care?
  •  Is your loved one receiving regular dental and vision care?
  •  Has your loved one received a comprehensive audiological exam?
  •  Is your family member able to tell you what happened during a medical appointment and explain any treatment changes or recommendations that the provider made?
  • If your relative sees multiple specialists, which doctor has knowledge of all of his/her health conditions and medications?
  •  Do you see any signs of untreated medical conditions?
  •  How many medications does your family member take, for what purpose, and at what dosages?
  •  Does your family member have expired or unused medications in the house?
  • Do you notice changes such as confusion or disorientation, language difficulties, or forgetfulness?
  •  Do you notice tremors, imbalance, or changes in motor control?
  •  Has your loved one signed a release to allow you or other family members to communicate with medical providers?
  •  Do you know what kind of insurance your loved one has?
  • Does your loved one have a durable power of attorney for healthcare?
  •  Where is the document?
  •  Who is the attorney-in-fact?
  •  Does your loved one have an   
  •      advance directive and/or POLST?
  •  Where are the documents?
  •  Which healthcare providers have them?
  •  What do they say?



Published on May 20, 2013.