With so many people reaching their senior years now, most people have at least one elderly relative or friend in their lives. With old age comes the inevitable decline in health, although the effects of aging vary dramatically from one person to another. If you have older parents, or maybe grandparents that you care about, you’ll want them to live as long and healthy a life as possible, which they’ll manage far better with support from you.
Getting seniors to talk about their health
It’s not always easy to help seniors with their health care needs because many of them don’t like discussing personal issues or admitting there’s anything wrong. You may know some older folk who are only too happy to discuss their various ailments at great length, but they are more of an exception.
You can see why someone who is a parent or grandparent, having led a lifetime of caring and being responsible for you, is now reluctant to accept a shift in your roles. The best thing you can do is keep an eye on them and look out for any signs that they’re having problems. Nagging and being disrespectful is not going to help, so avoid any temptation to talk to your senior relatives as if they’re a naughty child.
Common health problems for seniors
Some of the more frequently occurring conditions that older people are more liable to get have tell-tale signs. For example, if your mom’s arthritis is getting worse, you’ll be able to tell because she’ll struggle to open jars and her grip will get weaker. If your dad is having prostate trouble, he’ll be making sudden dashes to the bathroom on a regular basis.
Respiratory illnesses are more common in older people and can be more serious, especially if their chest gets infected. Encourage them to get their flu jabs each year, and make sure they look after themselves if they get a cold.
Don’t forget to be on the lookout for signs of mental distress or deterioration. Depression is common amongst seniors, especially if they’ve had health problems or have struggled to adjust following retirement or bereavement.
Some seniors turn to alcohol or drugs to support them through a difficult time, so don’t imagine that older people are immune from addictions. It’s more likely to be a prescription medication problem than illegal narcotics, but if they have a substance abuse issue of any kind, try and get them to ask for help from their doctor, or help them find a rehabilitation service, such as the South Florida Alcohol Treatment program.
Dementia is another issue to be aware of, but don’t start panicking if your parent gets more absent-minded; this could well be a normal sign of aging. More worrying are instances of them forgetting facts like names of their close family, or changes in their personality that make them more angry and irritable.
Your senior relatives may be getting older, but they can carry on leading happy and healthy lives for many years to come if they look after themselves and have your support.