7 Things I Learned – Taking Care of My Aging Parents

1. It is extremely important to find out, as soon as possible, the names and phone numbers of their doctors, as well as, all the medications they take regularly.

2. Do they have a Living Will (also known as an Advanced Medical Directive). If not, what are their wishes in the event they are in critical condition and can’t speak for themselves. Whatever their choice, it should be in writing.

3. Don’t try to handle everything alone. If you have no siblings or they are unwilling to help, ask your parent’s doctor for recommendations, look for agencies that specialize in senior care, check elderly care websites.

Find products made for elderly and/or disabled people, so they can maintain their independence longer. Two such products I found to be extremely helpful were: a wheeled walker w/seat and a fold up wheelchair.

4. If your parent does wind up in the hospital, rehab or nursing home – talk to the staff. Ask questions -about treatment about medications about any tests being done about the results of those tests about anything you notice that is not “normal” for your parent.

Note:Your loved one gets better treatment when the staff sees that you’re paying attention (respectfully and diplomatically – not belligerently) And since mistakes do happen, staying vigilant could prevent serious consequences.

5. When people have a hearing impairment, speaking LOUDER does NOT necessarily solve the problem.

It may be that the person cannot hear certain sounds – such as ch, sh, or several others. Substituting different words, rephrasing a sentence, speaking slower and facing the person all may have better results than SHOUTING.

6. The “experts” (doctors, dietitians, etc) who claim that the only way to live a long healthy life is to stay away from sugar and eat vegetables don’t “know it all.” My dad is 90 years old – eats cake at every meal and absolutely refuses to eat any vegetables or salad. And, he is neither obese, nor is he a diabetic. Go figure!

7.In caring for your aging parents – patience, diplomacy, and love go a long way – but if that doesn’t work, you sometimes have to use trickery to keep them from harming themselves or others.

Bonus: #8 – A sense of humor is mandatory.