On October 14th and 21st, Hebrew SeniorLife gathered together geriatric thought-leaders, researchers and physicians to hold an important discussion about the steps one should take to help aging parents as they make decisions regarding health and well-being. Those discussions culminated in an ebook, “You and Your Aging Parents,” which Hebrew SeniorLife is offering as a free downloadable pdf. The discussion also inspired our “You and Your Aging Parents” blog series, a series which includes this blog post and covers the various issues and concerns you may encounter as you and your parents continue on the journey of aging.
If you are observant, involved in your parent’s life and know their patterns of behavior, you will know when things are changing. If you observe changes that are of concern to you, ask your parents about the changes, whether they have seen their doctor about these changes and sought the doctor’s advice or recommendation. If you feel it is significant, help them to schedule a doctor’s visit promptly. The changes may be side effects of medication they are taking, and the doctor can make immediate adjustments, if that is the case. If they’re reluctant to go to the doctor because they’re avoiding hearing information or taking an action they are reluctant to accept, let them know that there are probably alternatives the doctor can recommend that can still improve their quality of life.
If your parents have multiple medical issues, it behooves both the child and the parent to visit the doctor’s office together and for the adult child to be another set of eyes and ears. It is always best for another person to go to the doctor’s office with the parent as it is difficult for older patients to always absorb and recall the information that is being presented. If you can’t attend to hear and talk with the doctor firsthand, write down your questions for your parents to take with them which can help them frame a productive conversation with the doctor.
The Medicare benefit now allows for an annual wellness exam with a zero premium and no out-of-pocket costs for your parents. If they haven’t been to the doctor, this is an annual opportunity for them to get a wellness assessment and create a wellness program with a doctor. This exam can identify any issues, and at the very least, confirm that you’re on the right preventive path.