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Confronting the changes in your aging parents

You and Your Aging Parents
Robert Schreiber

This blog is part of a year-long series aimed at addressing some of the most frequently asked questions we hear from family and adult children on the topics most concerning them regarding their aging parents or loved one. In 2012 Hebrew SeniorLife published the eBook "You & Your Aging Parent: A Family Approach to Lifelong Health, Wellness & Care",  a compilation of answers from HSL geriatric experts in response to the many of the most frequently asked questions.  We're reposting some of the most popular Q&A posts from our original eBook which was downloaded over 2,000 times.  We're also adding new Q&As throughout the series that address topics not originally included in our eBook. Sign up to receive the blog series and download our original eBook at www.hslindependentliving.org

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.

To download your copy of our “You and Your Aging Parent” ebook, visit our website, www.agingredefined.org.

Robert Schreiber, MD's picture

About the Blogger

Medical Director of Evidence-based Programs, Hebrew SeniorLife

Dr. Schreiber is Medical Director of Evidence-based Programs at Hebrew SeniorLife and Medical Director of the Healthy Living Center of Excellence, an organization funded by the John A. Hartford Foundation and the Tufts Health Plan Foundation. He served as Physician-in-Chief and Chief Medical Officer at Hebrew SeniorLife from 2004 to 2012. He helped develop the strategic direction of Hebrew SeniorLife Medical Group, in-home and community-based services, and long-term and post-acute care.  He is a faculty member of the Institute for Aging Research at Hebrew SeniorLife and is working to...

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