Sunday, July 24, 2011

Aging Parents' Well-being: 4 Things They Won't Tell Us and Why

The following situations and reactions are not exclusive to aging parents. Where older people are involved, however, the consequences are different.  They can significantly change parents' lives. Even in the best of relationships, most parents won’t tell us--

  Why? Pride: A remarkable 88-year-old mother fell and bounced back to normal many times without anyone’s knowing (or if they knew, they’d been sworn to secrecy) until she broke her 88-year-old hip and her devoted daughter found out. It turns out a simple corrective device, placed in her shoes, was all that was needed to solve the balance problem that caused the falls in the first place. But the solution came after enduring surgery and rehabilitation for her hip. While she’s still a spunky and amazing 88-year-old, it did “take her down a notch,” according to her daughter.
  Why? Fear of being forced to give up their home and go someplace where their adult children think falls are less likely—be it moving from a home with stairs to a one-floor apartment or to independent or assisted living, or coming to live with their adult children (granted, much less likely today than it was in previous generations).

  Why? Fear they'll be made to stop driving. But this needn’t be if solvable medical issues are involved and family members know about resources that evaluate older people's driving and may help them to drive longer: (click "health and safety" for The Effects of Aging on Driving Skills). Check AAA's brochures, click "products," "free," and scroll down for brochures that resonate ie. The Older and Wiser Driver and Drivers 65 Plus.

If safe-driving parents can legitimately continue to drive (possibly aided by programs like CarFit), it's easier and happier for everyone. If parents are no longer qualified to drive, it's based on objective evidence.

  Why? They still feel protective towards their children, don’t want to burden them, especially if the children have their own problems of deal with.
  Why? They don't want to chance being told what to do, they want someone to listen-- someone who they know cares--to bounce ideas off of.

  Why? No one wants a lecture or being told what to do, be they children, young adults or old adults. One independent-living, 80-something-year old father said  several years ago: “I told my daughter I was going to the movie with a friend and immediately was told it wasn’t wise because of swine flu. Come on. Children and people with certain conditions and are most at risk and I’m neither.” Another 80-year-old sums up the feelings of many when she confidently says “I still think I can make my own decisions.”

How many aging parents can identify with the short poem below?  Can't remember where it came from, but I saved it.

Our children have knowledge of important things
Things that they think we should know
Forgetting we told them those very same things
When they were young-- years ago.

As we try to help parents age well, it's food for thought.

Visit my other site:  Same blog, more resources

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