The Cycles of Life Part 2
Posted on: 2016 05 26
Try to embrace this new cycle; now instead of you being the focus of your parent’s lives, they need some attention from you. Take an interest in their social life, discuss their hobbies, find out who their close friends are (ask for their phone numbers at some point), and try to make time to see them on a regular basis if you live nearby. If you live far away, schedule a weekly phone call or video chat. Play games with them, either in person or online. I know that you are very busy but taking time before an issue or crises comes up is hugely beneficial for everyone. Communicate with siblings or other family members involved. Okay, now that your initial inquiry from part I has been done, you may have gotten a sense how aware, interested, and involved your loved one is in their health and healthcare. Hopefully you were able to get HIPAA releases signed and returned and you are set up at each health care provider’s office. You have read up on any health conditions, especially the chronic ones, and have your list for reference. If your loved ones were able to answer your medical questions and they seem engaged, that’s wonderful. Keep up the conversations and ask to be updated on doctor appointments and any changes in their health and medications. On the other hand, if it seems like they aren’t that engaged with their health, or even with life in general, this may be an indication that they are starting to need extra help. You may have less time than you originally thought but you are still being proactive and that’s all that matters. Here are common warning signs that your aging loved one needs help at home: • Piles of papers, mail, and unpaid bills • Late payment notices, bounced checks • Missed appointments • A lack of fresh food and /or spoiled food that doesn’t get thrown away • Messy house, cluttered, laundry piling up, strong odor • Missed medications or confusion with medications • Changes in mood or extreme mood swings • Loss of interest in hobbies and activities • Noticeable decline in grooming habits and personal care • Unexplained bruising • Poor diet, weight loss • There are new dents, dings or scratches on the car • Difficulty with balance, walking and mobility • Trouble getting up from a seated position It can be hard to accept these signs, for both you and your loved one. Both of you may be in denial, or scared, or angry, or anxious, or all of these things. These are common reactions to this new cycle. The sooner everyone can work through these emotions the better. Time and energy must go into honest conversations, reflections, and sharing perspectives. Realize and be sensitive to what this may mean to your loved one: a loss of independence and the thought of leaving their home. Imagine you were facing that! Be gentle yet firm, be empathetic yet realistic, be compassionate yet solution oriented. Include your loved ones as much as possible in developing a strategy and reassure them you just want them to be happy, healthy, and safe. Communication is key! Addressing some of these signs may be fairly easy, especially if you live close. Perhaps you can pick up groceries or prepare additional servings of your meals to drop off to them. Maybe you can help with opening mail and paying bills. The laundry might not be getting done because it is too heavy, so perhaps together you can work out a plan to carry or lift it. Same goes for the vacuum. Maybe you can arrange some appointments on your days off. You may want to purchase a seven-day pillbox at the drug store, it makes managing medicine much easier, especially if they have both morning and evening meds. If they are savvy with their cell phone, you can set a medicine reminder on it. Take a close look at their living space, visualize it as if you had mobility issues-can furniture be rearranged to make movement easier and safer? Are there tripping hazards that can be removed? Look at the lighting, maybe you can add some nightlights or additional lighting. Check that all lights have working bulbs. If there are no family members near your loved ones, it may be harder to tease out some of their difficulties and therefore subsequent solutions. It may be time for a visit from you or another family member.