By Laurie E. Ohall, Board Certified Elder Law Attorney

The holidays are upon us, and many will be traveling to spend time with their families.

This tends to be a time where, if the kids haven’t seen mom or dad in a while, they might be a little surprised at the changes that are taking place.

For instance, the parent may appear more forgetful than usual, or maybe they have lost a lot of weight and look frail. This can be a wake-up call to children who question what they can do to help their parents. Here are a few tips:

1. Do not panic. Showing your parents that you are worried and concerned is not necessarily a good thing. Come up with a plan for how to help them.

2. Look for resources in your area. In Florida, the Elder Helpline (1-866-96-ELDER) offers information about resources available in your area. They can help individuals find nutrition and meal programs, in-home services for seniors, and much more.

3. Find out if your parents have basic estate planning documents. Why? If your parents have not signed a Durable Power of Attorney and a Health Care Designation, no one has the authority to make financial or health care decisions for them. If you wait until it is too late (when they can no longer sign), you may have to go to court to be appointed their guardian. This can be very expensive and emotional. A qualified Elder Law attorney can prepare these documents.

4. If your parent agrees, take them to their doctor while you are in town. You can get a better idea of your parent’s medication needs and whether the doctor feels there are any medical issues that need to be addressed.

5. If your parent is really bad, you may need to have a conversation with him or her about moving closer to family or perhaps moving to assisted living. A geriatric care manager can help evaluate what is appropriate for your parent’s needs and can also help with placement in assisted living.

6. Please do not forget that your parents are adults. It is a fine line that we walk when we tell them what they must do versus suggesting what might be best. They raised you. They did a good job of raising you – don’t forget that.

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