The Challenges of Elderly Support
Providing support and assistance for aging family members can bring about many challenging issues. Maintaining safety, well-being, and independence can become a struggle as health care needs change with time. There are many resources available for both the elderly and their caregivers to help navigate both discussing their care and also safety with driving.
Communicating With Parents
One of the most helpful interventions is to start having conversations early – before there is an issue or concern, or during a time of stress, illness, or serious decline. Knowing what is important to your family member can help prioritize plans, and having those decisions in advance is extremely helpful. Discussing options of what type of living arrangements would be preferred, such as assisted living, home care, as well as decisions regarding health care, such as a living will, in advance is helpful for both the caregivers and their family member in need.
Five Wishes is a service which offers legal documents in making the decisions regarding a person’s care if they are unable to speak for themselves, encompassing all aspects of their care including their physical, personal, emotional, and spiritual care needs at agingwithdignity.org.
Dr. Nancy Snyderman, of NBC Nightly News, shares her personal experience with her aging parents at dailynightly.nbcnews.com. Her experiences led her to start a company to help others in similar situations navigate the many complex needs of providing care for those in need, at www.careplanners.com.
There are many resources to guide these very difficult conversations; theconversationproject.org offers these tips below as icebreakers.
When talking to your parents:
- Ask for help: “Mom, I need you to help me out – I may have to make decisions for you someday and I need to know what you want.”
- Bring up a family story: “Remember how Aunt Julie died, on a ventilator, in an ICU? Tell me how you felt about that.”
- Share this story: “I just saw this moving story and I’d love to talk about it.”
When talking to adult children:
- Do the mom thing: “I don’t want you kids burdened with stressful decisions about me.”
- Point out the upside: “I’m healthy now, but you’ll be grateful we talked about this.”
- Persist: “I know this is hard, but it’s important to me.”
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Information provided on this website and in the Doctor’s Blog is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended as and does not substitute for medical advice. Please consult your health care professional for evaluation of your individual case.