Behavioral Aging and Changes in Elderly Parents
Changes in our elderly parents, both physically and cognitively, can come quickly. Certainly, this may be a gradual process. And casual observers may be fooled into thinking very little has changed. Or, many seniors are able to mask their loss of function or loss of memory.
Family members need to pay more attention in observing and speaking with your aging parents. We all may be guilty of dismissing changes as simply unimportant. But in reality, the change may be due to a deeper, more telling cause.
My mother religiously called me every Sunday. Usually before noontime. It was her habit, an ingrained routine to check-in with her children every week via phone. I observed years ago that this habit had been altered. I did not notice the change at first, but soon I realized she was not making her normal Sunday phone call. In response, I simply started to call her. But over time I came to understand that she had forgotten her routine, lost track of days, and was no longer able to define and carry out her routine schedules. This enabled me to initiate a care plan, and bring in home care services and home health aide qualified staff help.
It may prove extremely helpful and informative to sit in on your parents’ monthly doctor’s appointment. Many times, the details of these conversations don’t get communicated or repeated properly. What goes on in the doctor’s office stays in the doctor’s office, and aging seniors forget the physician’s diagnosis and recommendations. Sitting in on a parent/physician meeting allows you to pose questions of the doctor, and become familiar with his/her routine. Should they still be driving? What is blood pressure reading? How consistent and strong is heart beat? Any weight fluctuations? Reflexes? How is eyesight – can they read the charts? Is the doctor looking at anything based on past history?
Stay involved in the health of your aging parents. Or, if time and distance are hurdles, establish a relationship with a home care agency to provide assistance and another set of eyes to observe behavior. A little help may be a huge boost to aging parents.
John D. Miller is the founder/owner of Home Care Partners, LLC, a Massachusetts business providing private duty, personalized in-home assistance and companion care services to those needing help in daily activities and household functions.
Phone: (781) 378-2164