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Issues of an aging population: What aging challenges should I be on the lookout for?

You and Your Aging Parents

Robert Schreiber, M.D.'s picture
Robert Schreiber
Robert Schreiber

In the fall of 2012, Hebrew SeniorLife gathered together geriatric thought-leaders, researchers and physicians for our inaugural "You and Your Aging Parents" program, an important discussion about the steps one should take to help aging parents as they make decisions regarding health and well-being. Overwhelmingly positive response indicates the need for this information and Hebrew SeniorLife continues to offer this program. Check our events listing for upcoming events. 

In addition, we published expert advice from the first program 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 that includes this blog post and covers the various issues and concerns you may encounter as you and your parent/s continue on the journey of aging.

The trigger points with aging challenges that should be of immediate concern, and what we as doctors focus on, are functional changes in the ability to manage the activities of daily living alone. These changes impact your parent’s ability to remain independent.  When these changes occur, there is an opportunity to revisit with your parents what is important to them and how this impacts their goals. At these points in time when there will likely be a need for more care and services, it will be very helpful for your parents to have plans of care in place, as well as to know their goals of care which may need to be revisited and modified.

Your role at these “decision points” is to help your parents in understanding and accepting the outcome they desire.  It is important not to be paternalistic and stress your views in an overbearing and intrusive manner.  Think of your role as that of a coach who wants to get your parents activated and engaged on the playing field while realizing they’re making the decision on where the ball ultimately goes.

There will also be trigger points in chronic conditions which will become decision points as well. As chronic conditions progress and it is clear that the disease is impacting your parent’s health and function, it will be important to discuss your parent’s values and wishes particularly when they cannot maintain their independence. It is important to understand their advance directive and priorities, including whether they want to live as long as possible or to function as well as possible – decisions that weigh both quantity and quality of life. This can also change as their health and life status changes over time.

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

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Medical Director of Outpatient Primary Care Practice, Community-Based Programs, Innovation and Development

Robert Schreiber, M.D., provides oversight of the Hebrew SeniorLife Medical Group, which offers primary and specialty care services to older adults. He is also involved in promoting new initiatives, including new models of care at HSL's long-term care facilities, continuing care retirement communities, and senior housing sites. Prior to joining HSL, Dr. Schreiber served as chairman of geriatrics at Lahey Clinic and held leadership positions at several Boston area long-term care facilities. He is board certified...

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Comment (1)

I am in senior products for

I am in senior products for my bank, and am often called upon to speak on aging in place. Having grown up in a Jewish home, I saw a distinct attitude and approach to aging family members, a foundation that has stood me in good stead as I address what has become a widespread, and often vexing, issue. I look forward to receiving data from current research.

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