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How to Assess Your Loved One’s Situation

Review physical, mental, environmental well-being

Article Highlights

  • An assessment can help solve problems
  • Clinics offer geriatric assessment centers
  • Use assessment tools to help

En español | As parents grow older, they face challenges that their adult children may not know how to address. The children may support their parents’ desire to continue living independently, but have concerns about their safety and well-being. One way to help resolve these conflicting emotions, and determine if the parents need assistance, is through an assessment.

See also: 8 rules for the new caregiver.

What Is an Assessment?
An assessment is a comprehensive review of a person’s mental, physical, environmental and financial condition. This helps to establish his or her ability to remain safely independent and identifies risks and ways to reduce them.

The Goal of Assessment
A thorough assessment should yield a plan for meeting needs and addressing problems. The findings may help your parents decide a change —- like moving or getting in-home assistance — is necessary for their safety and well-being. An assessment also may lead to resolutions that allow a parent to remain independent longer. A good plan can mean fewer accidents and illnesses, a longer life, improved quality of life and greater independence. It is important to include your parents in the discussion and decision-making about their options once the assessment is complete; involving them in the process should help them feel more comfortable with the outcome.

How to Assess
Families can conduct assessments on their own but may want to hire an experienced professional to lead them through this process. Some hospitals and clinics offer geriatric assessment centers or evaluation units in which a medical/social work team looks at all aspects of an older person’s health and life. The center will counsel your parents and you about the results, and offer practical assistance, such as linking them with local services and housing options. Individual geriatric care managers, also called case managers, provide similar services. Also check with your local agency on aging for information about locating professionals who can help you.

What to Assess
Professional assessments can take a few hours to several days and vary depending on the level of care needed. All assessments should include a thorough review of your loved one’s physical and mental health; medication use; daily routine; home and community safety; support system; appearance and hygiene; finances and personal interests. Read the caregiving Assessment Checklist for more details.

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