Take Action: Be Pro-Active to Signs of Aging

Once you’ve taken the time to review your parents’ situation be proactive and take action.

Share your concerns with your parents. Talk to your parents openly and honestly. Knowing that you’re concerned about their health may give your parents the motivation they need to see a doctor or make other changes. Consider including other people who care about your parents in the conversation, such as other loved ones, close friends or clergy.

Encourage regular medical checkups. If you’re worried about a parent’s weight loss, depressed mood or other signs and symptoms, encourage your parent to schedule a doctor’s visit. You might offer to schedule the visit yourself or to accompany your parent to the doctor or to find someone else to attend the visit. Ask about follow-up visits as well.

Address safety issues. Point out any potential safety issues to your parents then make a plan to address the problems. For example, perhaps your parents could use ‘assistive’ devices to help them reach items on high shelves or to help them stay steady on their feet. A higher toilet seat or handlebars in the bathroom may help prevent falls.

Contact the doctor for guidance. If your parents dismiss your concerns, you might call the doctor directly. Your insights may help the doctor understand what to look for during upcoming visits. Keep in mind that the doctor may need to verify that he or she has permission to speak with you about your parents’ care. Likewise, you may need to sign a form verifying that you have your parents’ permission to discuss their medical information with the doctor and his or her staff.

Seek help from local agencies. The local Council on Aging can connect you with services. For example, the county in which your parents live may have social workers who can evaluate your parents’ needs and put them in touch with pertinent services, such as home care workers and help with meals and transportation.

Consider home care services. If your senior parents are having trouble taking care of themselves, perhaps you could hire someone to clean the house and run errands. A home health care aide could help your parents with daily activities such as bathing and dressing. You might also consider Meals On Wheels and other community services. If remaining at home is too challenging, you might suggest moving to an assisted living facility.

So, basically…be aware and take steps to make sure your parents are comfortable and well during seasons that can be trying for even those that may feel ‘young-at-heart’!

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