Ageing Parental Care
Care About your Parents they are growing old too!
Often, around this time of year, Children Working cities apart return home for Diwali visit. Each passing visit brings realisation about parents growing older. Although Mom or Dad always report they are “just fine” when you make those weekly phone calls, during a visit, you realise that this is not the case. Your parents suddenly seem much older, and you see the memory lapses, or shortness of breath, wavering balance, multiple prescription containers, or other signals of waning health.
1st October of this month was also International Day for Older Persons and we will be celebrating it by creating awareness around the kind of problems our old age parents will face and how we can help them live longer, stronger and healthier.
Caring for an ageing parent alone is complicated. When your brothers and sisters are also involved, and when care, medical and financial decisions must be arrived at together as a team, care giving can become even more complex. Your siblings can be enormously helpful and your best support. But in many families, they can also be a source of stress.
It’s made more challenging when there’s no model for working together as a team to handle the practical, emotional and financial issues that go with caring for someone who is no longer able to be independent. Some families are able to work out differences; many others struggle.
To help your family navigate through this situation, we offer this advice:
1. Think about, and talk about, family history and dynamics, and how they might affect care giving.
2. Consider that care for a parent is a shared responsibility. A key concern is who will be the primary care provider(s) and what support other family members can provide. Since this is a role that can progress to more than a full-time job, this is an important decision. Then consider what other family members can contribute in time or money.
3. To help reach the goal of effective shared decision-making, hold a family meeting. Family meetings are a way for siblings, parents and other concerned relatives or friends to try to clarify the situation, work out conflicts and set up a care plan that, ideally, all can agree upon.
4. Understand and respect that your brothers and sisters might have different ideas about the care your parent needs.
5. Consult Geriatric doctors. In India awareness around geriatric special care is neglected and unknown. One of the most important ways to stay healthy in your 70s and beyond is to seek the care of a geriatric physician, also called a geriatrician. Geriatric physicians are medical doctors who specialise in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of disease and disability in older adults. They are specially trained in the ageing process and provide comprehensive health care.
In our next article in this series we will Also discuss about common health issues and Eating Precautions.