Sometimes an Article About Elder Abuse Is Just Plain Horrifying…

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If you are supporting elder parents or expect to be involved with their assistance in the future, take some time to read the New Yorker article, How the Elderly Lose Their Rights. The long story, by Rachel Aviv, describes the abuses that can occur when unscrupulous people seek the guardianship of elders. It focuses on one family in Nevada — and yes, it is horrifying to read — as a corrupt guardian gets the right to take over an elderly couple’s life, causing extraordinary financial and psychological damage.

This New Yorker piece is a must read for any adult child who is trying to ensure that elder parents live a full and robust life for as long as they are able. It illustrates why families need to meet with an attorney experienced in elder law who will help to create protective documents for family members to sign. These documents that can create a barrier for unscrupulous and corrupt individuals seeking guardianship.

I’ve read several blog posts that respond to Aviv’s article. The post at ElderLawAnswers.com which offers a detailed information to the New Yorker piece and also describes some of the legislative changes — state and national —  that aim to prevent such elder abuse.

 

Plan to Help Elderly Parents Set Up Electronic Medical Records

If you assist or provide support for an older elder in your family, check to see whether you need to help out with that individual’s electronic medical records (EMRs). You may have routinely set up your own EMRs without much thought, but many elder adults have not established or have had difficulty establishing their accounts.

EMRs are now a feature of every physician’s office and clinic. Frustratingly, doctors’ offices use different EMR programs, and most are not compatible with one another. Thus each person will often need to set up multiple EMRs, and add new ones when additional physicians enter the picture — something that can confuse a frail parent who sees several doctors.

EMRs offer lots of advantages for patients. for example, people to sign up for appointments and receive text reminders — much nicer than pesky phone calls. Patients and doctors can add information at almost any time and request renewals for their expiring prescriptions. Reviewing visit summaries, checking laboratory test results, and formulating questions before a new medical appointment is easier for patients, and EMRs offer physicians a clean copy of our medical history to read.        Continue reading

You Can’t Parent Your Parent — No Matter What

I just read a touching 2013 column about supporting elderly parents, written by Washington Post columnist, Cortland Milloy.

In his column Milloy addresses the notion, so prevalent these days, that many of us are “parenting our parents.” I’ll let you read the column for yourself, but I have some firm issues when it comes to the idea of parenting parents. Bottom line? I do not use the phrase.

I believe that my parents are elders, and no matter how frail they become, they possess more experience and wider perspective than I do at my younger age. I support, help, assist, and sometimes take charge to make the occasional decision — if absolutely necessary. I consider their welfare, just as they continue, even at their advances ages, to think about mine.

Aging in the later years of life is not fun. People lose their sense of independence, their cars, their friends, their ability to make decisions, and so much more. No matter what, despite either immense physical challenges or failings of memory, we should work hard to give them credit for, to recognize, and to celebrate the well-lived lives they have led.

As for my parents? They are fragile, but if anything, they continue to parent me.

The Senior’s Guide to Online Safety

connect-safely-for-seniorsAdult children often find themselves providing technology support services for their aging parents. Now there’s a new, research-based resource to help.

The Connect Safely organization has recently published The Senior’s Guide to Online Safety. The publication contains important information, it’s free, and it’s simple to download as a PDF file. Adult children may want to print the booklet and share this short and easy-to-read guide.

The Seniors Guide to Online Safety addresses a range of issues that are critical for senior and elder adults to consider and understand as they go about online activities. The guide includes safety and privacy tips, information on a range of scams, guidance about securing wifi, and advice about protecting identify and financial information. The goal is to educate older adults with information that comes from experts.

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The Aging Parent-Multiple Medication Conundrum

pillsThe 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.

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Stop Saying These Three Things to Elder Adults!

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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