Discussions about aging with your parents is a tough conversation. Important decisions made today can be extremely helpful to protect future finances. Make it apparent you are looking ahead towards avoiding serious complications in the future. These conversations can seem awkward, and overwhelming for most families, which can include everything from your parents’ ability to continue driving to the challenges of estate planning, long-term care and even end-of-life plans.
The discussion involving driving can be a sensitive one, though changes in sight and impairment caused by conditions or some prescription drugs can place the older individual at risk. Some experience cognitive decline, which can limit the ability to make quick decisions when faced with hazardous road conditions. Vision changes can make it difficult to see traffic lights, warning signs, pedestrians, cyclists and possibly other vehicles.
The National Safety Council provides many tips for older drivers who face the challenges of driving in heavy traffic daily. Staying active helps keep older drivers safe on the road. Be aware that there are resources for mature drivers, online safety courses that prove to refresh driving skills and make them aware of changes. If you have concerns, look for signs of unsafe driving habits, such as sudden lane changes, speeding, driving too slowly, tailgating other vehicles and getting into near misses on the highway.
Chronic Health Issues
Some chronic conditions can result in limited mobility and it’s important to be prepared for significant changes. It’s important to get information about the condition and plan for future needs and be more effective in communicating with your parent’s health care professionals and any paid caregivers. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the following medical conditions are among the most common causes of death for adults aged 65 and older:
Chronic lower respiratory disease
Influenza and pneumonia
Nephritis (inflammation in part of the kidneys)
These can result in various physical and mental changes. Along with changes they can manifest symptoms such as fatigue, confusion, and incontinence.
Discuss what kind of future care your parent would prefer if living independently eventually proves too difficult. Some older adults opt to stay in their homes, managed by both family members and home health services, while others require 24/7 care in a skilled nursing facility. Facilitating a clear, honest discussion of their preferences will enable you to get various future resources in place before any immediate needs arise.
Be Patient and Loving
Approach these topics in a patient and loving manner. It is difficult for any parent to lose any of their independence, and the last thing you want to cause is confusion or frustration. Plus, understand they are frightened by enormous changes that might transpire. When you initiate this conversation early it enables continuous open discussion about their health, plus the opportunity to include them in all aspects of future planning.
It is wise to give them as much control as possible and help make decisions. Helping to make these decisions will keep them as healthy and independent as possible for the longest period of time. Let them take the lead and provide lots of input.
Why Home Health?
There are numerous reasons why people may require home health care. Some are in the process of recovering from surgery or have a chronic condition that requires ongoing care and support. Some need therapists or assistance with the activities of daily life. Over the years we at GoldLeaf Home Health have found that most of our families want their loved one to remain in their own home. This way they can continue to be surrounded by friends and family and the comforts of home. Home health care is also the most affordable choice.