What to watch out for among older loved ones this Thanksgiving

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — For some, Thanksgiving is the only time of year that whole families can get together and enjoy one another’s company. It can also be a time when younger generations check in on how their older loved ones are doing.

Catherine Jacobs practices elder law at Warner Norcross + Judd LLP. She says there are some signs to look out for that signal changes you may need to respond to.

“At Thanksgiving when you go to visit, if you notice a house that is normally very neat and tidy and it seems to be askew, that’s a sign. If you’re looking at a mailbox, sometimes we find older adults having trouble driving might nick or dent a mailbox, if that mailbox is askew. Disorganization when talking with parents, if they’re getting time messed up, just little cues that aren’t the typical,” Jacobs said.

Jacobs suggested talking with loves ones as they hit what she calls “the third act,” or more than 60 years old. Is the home living space still working for the loved one? Is estate planning completed?

“Having a big holistic conversation of what things look like as we begin to age and we might need help, care or we might need different housing,” Jacobs said.

There are services available that can take some of the burden of home ownership off the shoulders of aging adults. Jacobs said the Kent County senior millage provides many resources. She suggested people call the Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan or Senior Neighbors of Grand Rapids to find any help they may need.

“Connecting us to community resources is really an important first step,” Jacobs said.

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