The intersection of elderly parents and multiple medications continues to be a conundrum for many adult children. It certainly is for my family! Two recent Washington Post articles about medication issues may be useful for the children or aging adults to read and then share with one another.
In Older Patients Sometimes Need to Get Off of Their Meds, but It Can Be a Struggle, physician Ravi Parikh writes about evaluating medications with the aim of de-prescribing some of the medicines that people take. He describes the struggles that can arise when patients hesitate to go off medications that they have been taking for years, because their sense is that their medications are working. People are reluctant to associate physical problems with medications that they already take, so when new symptoms arise, many people seek a prescription for that problem and are less inclined to examine whether or not the new problem might be caused by medications they already take.
When they speak to elderly seniors, middle-age children and and other adults tend to say things, often unintentionally, that demonstrate a lack of respect and empathy.
Sometimes it happens when a person tries to solve a problem quickly; at others the goal is to move along getting to work or school on time. Not infrequently adult children are frustrated when they need to repeat things which they have already said multiple times. Unfortunately, every time we make one of these comments, the elders in our lives grimace, sigh, or merely shake their heads, making allowances for our rudeness. We don’t mean to say unkind, disrespectful, and yes slightly nutty, things to our elder family members and friends, but we do.
As I’ve talked with elder adults that I know, I’ve discovered three phrases that they dislike hearing. Continue reading →
My older peelers gave our aging parents trouble when they tried to hold it.
Transgenerational design is a manufacturing concept for products that are useful for people of all ages and the design also ensures that older individuals will be able to use a product even as they age and their circumstances change.
Some years ago when my husband’s mother was recovering from a stroke, she made it clear to everyone that she wanted to return to her home. My husband and I were newcomers to the aging parent support scene, so when the social worker and physicians at the hospital suggested that we give Mother a personal safety device that she could wear around her neck, we readily agreed.
When my mother-in-law recovered enough to go home, we signed a contract with a company that worked with the local hospital, and we showed her how to wear the device. She accepted it and seemed to wear it most of the time, but sometimes we noticed that she was not wearing it, especially when we dropped in unexpectedly. Over the next few months, Mother wore it less and less, commenting that she did not need it, but when we sat down to have a conversation about it, she pointed out that it was ugly. “Why can’t it look like a piece of jewelry,” she wondered. “Then I’d be happy to wear it all the time.”
Advice-giving can trip up the elder parent – adult child relationship and even cause painful divisions between parent and child.
My mother will ask me a question and the answer is fairly straightforward, but then I’ll keep on answering, advising, really. At other times, I offer unsolicited advice about one thing or another. Usually my mother listens, but it’s not uncommon for her to give me the aggravated look that she used when I was five years old and not following her directions. It’s miraculous that my parents, while momentarily irritated with me, are quick to forgive and, yes, even offer me their own advice. We trust one another, and that’s key.
I know that I should be better about offering too much advice, but it’s hard.
A thoughtful article, The Gift of Presence, the Perils of Advice, posted at Krista Tippett’s On Being website, has encouraged me to think about the advice I so effortlessly offer my mom. In his essay, On Being columnist Parker J. Palmer writes that people who need support find it considerably more helpful when we concentrate on listening and asking questions and give advice only when a person insists that we give it. I need to get better at asking questions.
A great article in the December 14, 2015 Washington Post, The On-Demand Economy: Changing the Way We Live As We Age, explains how many new online services such as food delivery, rides on demand. and home services are making life much easier for elders who want to remain independent as long as possible. Most of these connect with easy-to-use smart phone apps.
The article authors, Luke Yoquinto and Joseph Coughlin, are affiliated with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) AgeLab, a group that connects new ideas with technology and aims to improve the health and quality of people’s lives, especially as they age.
I’ve just finished reading a Washington Post opinion piece, We Need to Take Better Care of Our Elderly by Jerald Winakur. The March 20, 2015 article describes a hospital experience of a 91-year-old woman, who may be the author’s mother.
Winakur, a geriatrician, describes what happens to an elder who enters the hospital’s complex world of unfamiliar physicians, none of whom are the person’s primary care physician. He describes how wide-ranging medical tests, medical care recommendations, few explanations, and very little personalized care combine to create confusion for the patient and for family members. And, of course, there are the always-connected medical devices. Continue reading →