In most adults’ lives, there comes a point when their interaction with their parents are reduced to phone calls twice a month and a few holiday visits. This makes it difficult to make a sound assessment of their health and lifestyle and offer any assistance they may need. You shouldn’t be surprised that older adults can get defensive or embarrassed when they’re faced with emerging physical limitations. It’s a normal part of aging, and adapting comes with its own emotional challenges that they don’t want other people involved in.
If you really want to know how your parents are doing and whether they need your assistance more than they’re willing to admit, the solution is to drop by their place armed with the necessary knowledge. When you know how to spot the signs that their independent days are numbered, you can start preparing to cater to their needs.
Spot the Difference
The first and most crucial step must be done by someone who knows your parents best. You can’t just rely on knowledge you gleaned growing up about their behavior, preferences, and pet peeves. You also need to be aware of how they’ve been doing mentally, emotionally, and physically in the past years and months. This will give you something to compare their current state to see if anything drastic has changed or if gradual changes have reached a worrisome point.
Is it normal for them to shy away from new people or is it something they only recently did? Do they remember to drink their medication and to show up to their doctor’s appointment? How well are they taking care of themselves and keeping up with household chores? More importantly, are these normal or are they extremely unusual? Even the smallest anomalies you observe are critical in making a well-informed decision about their well-being.
One sign you have to look out for is depression. Contrary to popular belief, it isn’t a normal part of aging. While they may hide it in short encounters, they’re less likely to be able to keep up the act for long stretches of time. Depression is a serious issue and must never be underestimated, particularly in older adults.
It might take a couple of visits, and for a lot of people, a concerning event for them to recognize that changes must be made.
To avoid any serious incident from happening and remain on top of things, ask your parents for permission to be in contact with their neighbors, nearby relatives, or some friends. If you can manage to agree on the legalities of you communicating with their doctors, then take advantage of that. Getting this kind of access gives you a good perspective of how your parents are doing and if others think they need more assistance than they’re letting on.
Heeding the Call
Here’s where a lot of parents and their children start arguing. Out of grave concern, you might think that helping your parents equate to taking away their independence. You’ll immediately want to make drastic changes that remove them from life as they know it.
That’s not always true, and the solution doesn’t always involve removing them from their home. Some of the first signs that will catch your attention have simple solutions. They may just be in need of more modern home equipment and different prescriptions. Perhaps they’ll benefit from doing more recreational activities and starting a workout routine that their doctors would approve. Coordinating with them and meeting these needs can improve their trust in you. Other times, however, the situation warrants more drastic and permanent solutions.
Unless your parents suddenly become incapable of deciding for themselves, you have to work out these solutions with them and with immediate family members. Discuss options available to you in Arizona when it comes to healthcare, especially if they’re suffering from certain conditions. Will they want to hire a reliable hospice nurse or enter a facility? Can you and your siblings temporarily relocate, or are there available local relatives who can step in?
There’s also the option of moving them to your home so that you and your children can work together in looking out for them. It’s not easy having these conversations, but they’re crucial if you’re going to make sound and efficient decisions for your parent’s well-being.
Your aim should be to support, not dictate them. The loss of certain freedoms and physicality have a huge impact on their lives, and you need to come prepared to meet their shifting moods and preferences with calm. Handled lovingly, any tough situation will diffuse and become easier to manage.