Talking with our elderly parents about their living situations and the possible need for change is not always easy. Who wants to discuss moving mom or dad to an assisted living or nursing home facility? A successful conversation depends, to some degree, on the relationship we have with our parents. It also depends on the parent’s mental, emotional and physical condition. While many people put off serious conversations to avoid conflict or awkwardness, both parent and adult child may lose an opportunity for closeness, understanding, access to information that may affect the decision and optimum peace of mind.
When you choose to discuss these issues, talk with your elderly parents gently and honestly about their wishes, their abilities and their options. Far more often than not, these conversations are helpful and put the adult child in a better position to make decisions later when the parent may not be able to do so. The following are suggestions for conversations with your elderly parent:
- Share your own feelings and reassure the parent you will support them and you can be depended on to take care of them and keep their wishes in the forefront of your mind.
- Help the parent retain whatever control is possible in making his or her own decisions.
- Encourage the smallest change possible at each step, so the parent is able to adjust to changes more easily.
- Educate yourself on legal, financial and medical matters pertaining to your parent(s) as background for your conversations, including current knowledge on the aging process.
- Respect your own needs and be honest with your parents about your time and limits.
If this kind of conversation seems impossible, or the situation and relationship becomes overwhelming, professional counseling may be a useful alternative.
When a Lifestyle Change May Be Necessary
Physicians and geriatric social workers warn there are a number of danger signs that indicate an elderly person needs extra help or a change in living arrangements. Any abnormal change in personality or behavior should be heeded. Just keep in mind that no change in lifestyle should be made without discussions with your parents, other family members as well as doctors and other health professionals.
- Sudden weight loss could be an indication your parent is not eating or not preparing foods.
- Failure to take medication or over-dosing may indicate confusion, forgetfulness or a misunderstanding of the doctor’s instructions.
- Burns or injury marks may indicate physical problems involving general weakness, forgetfulness or a possible misuse of alcohol.
- Deterioration of personal habits such as infrequent bathing and shampooing, not shaving or not wearing dentures, could be the result of either mental or physical problems.
- Increased car accidents can indicate slowed reflexes, poor vision, physical weakness or general inability to handle a vehicle.
- General forgetfulness such as not paying bills, missing appointments or consistently forgetting names of those around them.
- Extreme suspicion could indicate a thought disorder. Demonstrating baseless fears about family, friends or neighbors, especially combined with ungrounded worries about dire consequences, may be a red flag.
- Bizarre behavior of any kind could be a warning sign. This behavior could be dressing in heavy gloves and an overcoat in 90 degree weather or going outside without shoes when it’s snowing. Watch for uncharacteristic actions or speech.
- Disorientation of a consistent nature may indicate a need for help. Examples include not knowing who one is, where one is, who the family is or talking to people who are not there.
If at any time you require the services of a law firm that has made its mission to protect the rights of the elderly, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us and see if we can help. There is never a charge for a consultation and if we deem there is more at play, we will not put the financial burden of representation on you, but rather on those who have caused your aging loved one to be harmed.
PMHP Law, LLC represents clients throughout Georgia and the Southeastern United States. To schedule a free consultation with a lawyer at our firm, call us locally at 404-618-0882 or toll-free at 1-855-329-7144. You can also visit us online at www.eldercareabuselawyer.com or www.ganursinghomeabuselawyer.com.