Posts Tagged "aging parent"

Talking to Your Parents’ Doctor

Posted by on Apr 24, 2021 in Family Relationships, Health Care Team and System |

  “Mom has been having dizzy spells and seems to be losing interest in her normal activities. She tells us “everything is fine”, but we’re worried would like to talk to her doctor about our concern. How should we do this?” This is a common dilemma for adult children who are worried about aging parents.  When you see signs that cause concern, it is natural to wonder what is wrong. Often, the elderly parent will be “reassuring” or might try to dismiss your concerns.  But your worries don’t go away easily. You would prefer to be reassured from the doctor. Have you tried calling the doctor, and been told that he/she won’t see you without your parent present?  Maybe the doctor doesn’t return your call?  Here are three things to consider if you want to talk to your parents’ doctor: Doctor-Patient Confidentiality This is the obligation of one person to preserve the secrecy of another’s personal information.  A doctor’s guiding code of ethics requires them to maintain confidentiality.  When physicians are licensed to practice, they take the Oath of Hippocrates and promise: “Whatever, in connection with my professional service, I see or hear, which ought not to be spoken of abroad, I will not divulge” (abridged). Confidentiality stems from the therapeutic relationship between patient and doctor.  Patients want to trust that their personal information will be kept private. They want to be able to speak honestly, without worry that their condition or treatment could be revealed to others without their consent. Right To Privacy Privacy is the right of individuals to be left alone, and to determine when, how, and to what extent they share information about themselves with others.  But you have the right to share your worry and concern with your parent, and ask if you can come to the next doctor’s visit. Explain what you want to do: for example “I want to help you remember the things you wanted to talk about.” Or “I want to ask the doctor about your dizziness.” Suggest that having a family member or friend with them can help your parent get the most out of a visit. Being Your Parent’s Advocate The doctor may appreciate learning more about your parent’s problem from your point of view. If you want to advocate for your parent, consider writing the doctor to express your concerns.  But keep in mind that the doctor may still not be willing to share private information with you.  A word of warning: tell your parent you are writing the letter.  Don’t expect the doctor to keep it a secret! The first steps to opening the lines of communication are to help your parent(s) understand the benefits of this information exchange, and to get their consent. If you do meet with the doctor, or have a telephone conversation, be prepared.  Be specific about your concerns and ask: What is wrong? What do I need to know? What can I do to help my parent? Whether your parent is at home or in hospital, and whether you live in the same city or across the country, establishing a relationship with your parent’s doctor can benefit all parties.  Vol.3, No. 17 © ElderWise Inc. 2007. You have permission to reprint this or any other ElderWise INFO article, provided you reproduce it in its entirety, acknowledge our copyright, and include the following statement: Originally published by ElderWise Publishing, a division of ElderWise Inc. We provide clear, concise and practical direction to Canadians with aging parents. Visit us at and subscribe to our FREE e-newsletter      ...

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Aging Parents and Adult Children Living Together? Talk Before You Pack

Posted by on Feb 24, 2021 in Housing Options, Living Arrangements |

Are you considering moving in with your adult children? Are you thinking about having your aging parent(s) move into your home? Whatever your reason, you can expect that some intergenerational households will work well, but others are filled with tension. Moving in together can work, but success is greater when everyone pays attention is paid to each others’ autonomy and where certain things are negotiated beforehand:   Respect Autonomy Seniors have been making their own decisions for a long time. Asking them to give up this independence can create feelings of tension and disrespect – even when the adult child is trying, out of love, to help the parent stay safe and healthy. To the senior, it can feel like the adult child is dictating to them how to live their lives.   Negotiate Important Matters If you are considering living together, ask these questions of yourself and discuss them with each other.  Why do you want to live together? Is this the best choice for all concerned?  Have you evaluated other options: home care, assisted living or a personal care home?  Do family relationships allow you to communicate openly and discuss mutual concerns?  Have you enjoyed extended periods of time together before? Can you have a “trial” period?  Where grandchildren are present, who will be responsible for discipline?   How will you provide privacy for each generation?  How will household chores be divided?  What are the financial issues involved?  How long might this living arrangement last?  What will you do if the arrangement is not working?  Are the parent’s health concerns escalating? Will more care be required?  Do adult children have career commitments, health problems or other issues that may affect their ability to cope?  How will the adult child have respite and holidays?  Who else will help?   Whatever reasons may prompt you to decide to share a home, your family can enjoy the mutual respect, support and contributions of each generation. But please: Talk before you pack!   Vol.2, No.10; © ElderWise Inc. 2006 You have permission to reprint this or any other ElderWise INFO articles, provided you reproduce it in its entirety, acknowledge our copyright, and include the following statement: Originally published by ElderWise Inc. We provide clear, concise and practical directions for Canadians with aging parents. Visit us at and subscribe to our FREE e-newsletter.  ...

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A Surprise Call From The Hospital

Posted by on Feb 23, 2021 in Health Care Team and System, Health Emergencies, Powers of Attorney |

John’s aging parent,  Mary, 90, lives in another province. One day, he gets the call he has long dreaded: his mother has fallen, broken her wrist, and has been taken by ambulance to the hospital.  She has had surgery and her arm is in a cast. Is she ready to go home? Not so fast.  John is told that his mother is showing signs of mild cognitive impairment and that the discharge planner wants an assessment. John must call the doctor for more information. John manages to talk to the doctor later that day. He learns that Mary is doing very well physically, but the doctor is concerned about the possibility of dementia and has referred her to the Geriatric Team.  John asks if he should take time off work and come. The doctor advises him to wait a few days until the outcome of the assessment. During the next few days, John calls the hospital for updates. He talks to: the Registered Nurse on the unit; the Head Nurse on the unit; the Relief Nurse on shift; and the Discharge Planner. John is confused. Some of these professionals believe that Mary has signs of dementia while others are not sure. The discharge planner is concerned that Mary may not be safe to return home; John worries, because Mom has refused previous attempts to talk about moving to assisted living. Later, John hears from the Geriatric Case Manager that, for now, they have not confirmed dementia. His mother had delirium because of the injury, pain, unfamiliar environment and anxiety. Mary is moved to a transition unit.  Soon after, Mary calls John to tell him that she is discharged and will get home care. John wonders if she will accept strangers coming into her house because she has refused previous offers of household help. John takes a week’s vacation time and goes to help his mother. During his time there, he meets: the community care (home care) coordinator; the home care nurse; a home health aide; the transition coordinator; the geriatric case manager; and an occupational therapist. Collectively, they offer the following advice: Arrange for Meals on Wheels Make changes for safety at home: get a bathroom grab bar; remove scatter rugs; add a night light; get Mary an emergency response system Mary should accept home care services for help with bathing John should get Power of Attorney to look after Mary’s finances Mary should write a Personal Health Care Directive John is told that they will follow-up to monitor his mother’s safety at home. If she is not safe, the team will encourage her to move into assisted living.  John returns home and stays in daily phone contact with his mother. Contacting the health care professionals is difficult, given time zone differences and work schedules. They encourage him to talk to his mother so she can keep him up to date. But John senses that Mary is avoiding detailed questions. He assumes that she wants to appear to be doing well so that she can stay at home instead of living in a care home. Who am I supposed to talk to? How do I reconcile different opinions from the various professionals? Why is the medical team so guarded about what to tell me? When should I go help my mother – right away or when she is discharged? Will I have enough warning to arrange vacation time and travel? Why is Mom moving to another unit in the hospital? What is her diagnosis? What will she need from now on? On the medical team, who is responsible for what? Why are so many people involved? John finds out...

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Eating Out…With Diabetes

Posted by on Sep 8, 2021 in Staying Active |

Your aging parent may be one of the growing numbers of seniors with Type 2 Diabetes. More than 800,000 seniors have this disease and the number will rise as Canada’s population continues to age. Eating out is one of life’s pleasures and it does not have to stop because of Diabetes. According to the American Diabetes Association, you can enjoy eating out and take care of your diabetes at the same time. It’s a matter of making the right choices, asking for what you need, and balancing your meals out with healthy meals at home. Not everyone with diabetes has the same nutritional goals. A meeting with a Registered Dietician or Diabetic Educator can help sort out what to do when dining out. How to find a restaurant You can help your parent by picking a restaurant that offers a variety of choices. This will increase the chances of finding appropriate foods. You can phone ahead and ask about the menu. Also, make a reservation to avoid waiting and ensure that your parent can eat on time. This is particularly important if your parent uses insulin. How to order The American Diabetes Association makes these suggestions, based on sound principles of nutrition: You might also adopt these guidelines to prevent diabetes and heart disease. Discuss these ideas with your parent. If you do not know what is in a dish - ask. Ask whether food has been prepared with liquid oils rather than solid fats (that can be high in saturated and trans fats). Choose food prepared with minimal salt, no extra sauce or butter Choose dishes that are broiled, grilled or steamed instead of fried. Try to eat the same portion as you would at home.  Share one order if the serving size is large, or take the extra food home. Ask for sauces, gravies, and salad dressings on the side. Order the baked potato - but top it with a teaspoon of low-calorie yogurt or sour cream instead of butter. Limit your intake of sugar, caffeine, alcohol and soft drinks. Need more information? Call the Canadian Diabetes Association’s toll-free information line at 1-800-226-8464  Email a customer care representative at [email protected]  Visit the Canadian Diabetes Association’s .website:    Vol. 4, No. 5 © ElderWise Publishing 2008. You have permission to reprint this or any other ElderWise INFO article, provided you reproduce it in its entirety, acknowledge our copyright, and include the following statement: Originally published by ElderWise, Canada’ go-to place for “age-smart” planning. Visit us at and subscribe to our FREE...

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Help Aging Parents Relocate

Posted by on Sep 8, 2021 in Housing Options, Power of Attorney |

Selling and leaving a family home of many years is among the most difficult decisions that face families when an aging parent must move. Often the move is the most tangible symbol of another loss - of health or mobility, or loss of a loved one. It’s hard to prepare for the emotional upheaval of moving an aging parent to a retirement residence or care facility. It’s also difficult to dispose of the family home and contents while grieving the loss of a parent. Senior moves and house clearings may involve family members, executors or persons exercising powers of attorney. The decision to move may be a choice, or it may be a necessity. Families in this situation can turn to the special services provided by senior move managers. These businesses may specialize in working with the elderly, as well as providing house clearing and estate services.  “We’re definitely dealing with a grieving process,” says Dawn Rennie, President of Transitions Inc., which operates throughout Western Canada. “Often, people haven’t anticipated the emotions that come with a loss or with moving on after change.” Dealing with the family home adds another burden at a difficult time. Belongings need to be divided between family and friends. Valuables need to be appraised, sometimes disposed of. After that, it’s packing, supervising the move and preparing the house for sale. All these tasks are time-consuming and can involve complex decisions. The fact that many families are scattered geographically complicates things further. Others simply don’t have the time or physical ability to do the job. Seniors may have no family close by. One elderly spouse may be managing a move for the other. All face physical and emotional challenges when moving house.  “One of the hardest things can be dealing with the paperwork,” says Rennie. “Some clients feel overwhelmed because the other spouse always looked after it. They’re quite relieved when we tell them we’re used to dealing with computers and call centres for all the arrangements that need to be made!” Our aging population means seniors’ moving services are becoming in ever greater demand. For families at a distance, both the logistical help and local support are plusses.  An outside party may bring an objective view to the many decisions that must be made. They can be the extra pair(s) of hands that help with the preparation and coordination. Sometimes, the cost of family travel and taking time off work can be greater than the cost of hiring outside help. “When the move is finally completed, clients are often pleased and relieved to walk into a new place where they’re still surrounded by many of their favorite things,” Rennie explains. “That can make it easier to let go of the past and start anew.” Whether the move is by choice or by necessity, senior move services take on the planning, organizing, co-ordination and supervision. For more information on what’s involved, visit   Vol. 4, No. 13 © ElderWise Publishing 2008. You have permission to reprint this or any other ElderWise INFO article, provided you reproduce it in its entirety, acknowledge our copyright, and include the following statement: Originally published by ElderWise, Canada’s go-to place for “age-smart” planning. Visit us at and subscribe to our FREE...

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