by Martin Sabel
Having a problem talking to your parents about their growing older?
You have a lot of company. There are a number of reasons it’s so hard for us boomers to face this issue with our aging parents. One reason is selfish.
Watching an elderly parent get older is hard to accept. We still want to see our mom and dad as active, healthy, middle-aged folks. Watching them struggle with their physical changes reminds us we’re aging, too. Watching them struggle with losses in hearing, sight, mobility, mental sharpness and physical strength reminds us of the health issue we find ourselves dealing with every day.
It’s hard to face the reality that our parents just aren’t as vibrant and independent as they once were. But it’s a reality nonetheless. Just take a look at our hospitals. They fix ailments there. Most stay full. And the majority of patients are over the age of 65.
So the first step is recognizing these changes as an inevitable part of living. The next step is asking yourself “What can I do to help my mom and dad stay healthy and independent for as long as possible?”
Here are 5 things adult children should stay alert to when visiting elderly parents.
1. Loss of hearing.
It took my dad several years of us chiding him before he agreed to get a hearing aid. According to the American Geriatrics Society, over half of all people over 65 experience some hearing loss. Hearing loss can be dangerous when driving. It can also cause you dad to misunderstand medical instructions from his doctor. If one of your parents has a hearing loss, try speaking slightly increase the volume of your voice and lower your pitch. High frequency sounds become harder to hear. Face your parent when speaking so they can see your lips and gestures.
2. Loss of vision.
My mom suffers from macular degeneration. Vision loss is quite common in older adults. That’s why they need a complete eye exam at least every 2 years. Magnifying glasses and large print books make it easier for them to read. It may be advisable to improve the lighting in the darker areas of your parents home.
3. Risk of Falling
The elder are 10 times more likely to end up hospitalized after a fall than children. They are eight times more likely to die as the result of a fall. It’s a serious hazard for the over 65 crowd. If balance or strength is fading, make sure your parents discuss it with their doctor. If their strength and balance can not be improved, a cane, walker or wheelchair may be appropriate. Be sure to check their house for tripping hazards. Secure loose rugs, place poorly located extension cords out of traffic areas and think about placing non-slip rubber mats in bathing areas.
4. Watch for a loss of interest in activities that once brought pleasure
It can be a sign or depression or mental disease. The wives of one of my clients realized something was wrong with her scientist husband when he quit playing golf. It was his passion for years. When she checked with his golfing buddies, she learned that several months earlier he let others keep his score. He was no longer able to add up the stokes. It was her first sign her husband suffered with Alzheimer’s Disease.
5. Review their cash flow and assets
If your parents will allow you, examine his or her financial management by reviewing their checkbook, bank statements, credit-card statements and canceled checks
See if they are properly keeping track of deposits and expenses. Have duplicate payments been made? Do you see a lot of checks to home shopping network, contests, sweepstakes? Look for unusually large charitable donations or checks to people you don’t know. These could be signs of approaching dementia.
With a better understanding of the aging process, you can forge a stronger family bond while helping elderly parents enjoy a dignified, quality of life in their later years.
Care for elderly parents can be demanding. With the right information you can avoid mistakes and unnecessary stress. Martin Sabel delivers valuable eldercare insights so you make better decisions faster, with less stress and heartache. Access FREE Weekly Elder Care Tips by visiting http://www.mreldercareonline.com/.
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