Wednesday, December 24, 2008

senior's secrets

My conversations with adult sons and daughters with failing parents revolve around issues they are afraid to tackle. Many caregivers or their ailing parents can be in denial.

Our generation likes to research, discuss, prepare and create plans. My parent's generation, especially when they are facing ill-health do not.

I read a clever newsletter bulletin on Top 10 Secrets That Aging Parents Keep, and thought it quite true. Parents will keep quiet falls, pain, dizziness, money issues, abuse, cognitive issues, or addictions.

They do not want you to know that they are risky drivers, and cannot see, hear, or respond as well as they did to driving situations. They prefer their transportation freedom, and do not want to give up their independence. Of course, some adult children realize that should they recommend, as doctors in Canada must do, that the car keys must be taken away, it is the family who must then ensure that IADL, groceries, banking, medical appointments must be taken care of and usually by them.

They do not want you to know that their hired caregivers (public or private, home care or institution) are giving them a hard time. Many try to buy good care by giving away personal items, i.e., paintings, money, which in ethical Home Care providers is a forbidden act.

It is very important to plan and prepare for eventualities, while a parent is functioning cognitively. Families can sit down and decide about living accommodations, when they are no longer able to take care of personal, daily needs (ADLs) and need outside help you may be unable to provide. Where does your parents want to die, for example? Mom mother clearly wanted to die at home and denied how ill she really was at the time. She was afraid she would be 'whisked off the street", as she was when in hospital for chemo, but was found to have a blood clot due to lymphedema. If she had permitted me to go with her I might have been better able to help her. I really should have insisted!

I have heard stories of denial by family members..."Yes, one day we should talk about...", in the meantime their parents pull out into traffic and doesn't look both ways. Their parents lives in a house that is less than sanitary. One parent is getting more frail, while taking care of their spouse, and this has an impact on the other parent. It is a difficult time. Some agencies have difficulty convincing the frail parent to accept help. Many of our failing seniors are afraid to admit that they need help. Some, experiencing dementia, are in denial or are unable to perceive the physical, social and emotional impact of their frailty on family members. Keep the dialogue open and ensure such situations can be ameliorated.

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