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Elder Rage, or Take My Father... Please!: How to Survive Caring for Aging Parents

If you’re amongst the millions of baby boomers who is or wll be caring for an aging loved one, the Following  will prove to be an absolutely critical resource:
The Ultimate Caregiver’s Success System

Beyond Driving with DignityThe workbook for the families of older drivers

Knowing you are not alone
can be a great help

Stuck in the Middle: Shared Stories And Tips For Caregiving Your Elderly Parents

Could you use a guide that explains the Assisted Living maze?

Check out Ryan Malone's Book

The By Families, For Families Guide to Assisted Living: A Step-by-Step Guide to Evaluating and Transitioning to an Assisted Living Community

Carolyn Rosenblatt has authored this great series on senior issues.

The Boomer's Guide to Aging Parents: The Complete Guide

David Solie has authored this great book on geriatric and intergenerational communication:

How to Say It to Seniors: Closing the Communication Gap with Our Elders

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Family ... Relationships

Top 10 Secrets That Aging Parents Keep and what to do about it

Source: AgingCare.com

Your aging parent may be keeping secrets from you. Not necessarily lies, but withholding of information that may be important to their health, safety or general well-being.

Often, as people age, they become embarrassed when they have to ask for help, or require assistance in their care. So they cover up bruises, accidents and money trouble in an attempt to maintain their independence.

From falls to spending habits and from abuse to car accidents, there are a range of “secrets” that elders tend to keep, according to Marilyn Sharbach Ladew, MSW, a nationally recognized expert in senior caregiving.

  1. Falls: “It’s easy for an elderly person to cover up a fall, particularly if no bruising or bone breaks was suffered. Your parent may worry that you will try to him/her to a wheelchair or walker,” Ladew says. The preservation of independence is of major importance to older adults, even at the risk of falling.
  2. Pain: “So not to cause you worry, your parent may not tell you about new or increasing pain,” she says. As a caregiver, you need to know about pain so that you can get the proper medical treatment or medication for your loved one.
  3. Dizziness: “Dizziness could be caused by low blood pressure or a medication” Ladew explains. Although your parents may not want to alarm you, this is a potentially serious and dangerous problem that needs to be addressed
  4. Money shortages: “If the parent’s money supply starts to fail, he/she may cut back on buying food and medications,” Ladew says. Clearly, this can be very dangerous. If you, as caregiver, are aware of financial difficulties, you can seek financial assistance from government or community agencies on behalf of your parent.
  5. Frivolous purchasing: Elders sometimes get into the habit of making unnecessary, even unwise, purchases. They might buy from QVC, catalogs, telemarketers, direct mail pitches, or on the Internet. The parent doesn’t tell the caregiver in fear that their purchases will be restricted and financial independence taken away. As caregiver, keep an eye out for new items, and even strange merchandise. If you suspect your parent is making unwise purchases, check credit card statements and checkbooks. Sound sneaky? Perhaps, but as a caregiver, financial responsibility comes with the territory
  6. Financial abuse: “A family member, friend or helper may be raiding your parent’s financial assets, checkbook or credit cards. Your parent might not even be aware this is happening. If the elder is aware, he or she may not tell you for fear that you think they can no longer manage finances.” Similar to elder abuse, financial abuse is a crime. And because most parents withhold the facts from their caregivers, the crooks continue stealing, without penalties or jail terms.
  7. Elder abuse: “Elder abuse may be caused by family members, neighbors or even paid helpers. Each event is a criminal act, but the parent may be concerned that telling you may cause a major rift in family,” says Ladew. Recent studies report that less than one-in-seven incidents of physical elder abuse are revealed to caregivers; therefore, the abusers walk free and clear.
  8. Auto accidents or driving infractions: “Your parent probably wants the freedom and independence that driving provides. Therefore, if they are in an accident or receive a driving violation, they may withhold that information, for fear that you will take away the car keys,” Ladew says. A driving violation or accident may be indicative of failing health conditions such as vision, mobility or mental awareness.
  9. Alcohol or drug abuse: “Your parent may be drinking heavily, using illegal drugs, or abusing prescription medications. This is extremely dangerous, as alcohol or drug use can conflict with other medications as well as quickly become an addiction.” Keep your eye out for changes in mood or personality, empty bottles of wine, or frequent trips to the pharmacy. If you suspect abuse, address the issues with your parent in a non-confrontational way. Or, talk to your parent’s doctor for advice.
  10. Gambling: “Many elders gamble out of boredom, to fill free time,” Ladew says. The casinos know this, and often target elders on television, radio, the Internet and direct mail. The gambling houses offer “senior special” meal prices to draw the parent to the slots and game tables. However, gambling can quickly get out of control and lead to financial troubles.

Dealing with the Secrets

In an ideal world, we’d all have open and honest communication with our elders, and secrets would be out of the question. In truth, this often isn’t the case.
The most important step is to try and develop open communication. Be gentle and supportive, hoping for an honest talk. Don’t judge, don’t preach, don’t accuse and don’t dictate. The goal should be to form a partnership with your parent.

Emphasize that you don’t want to take things away from them, but rather enhance their life and make it easier. Some conversation starters:

  • Share an article or magazine story with them about the topic. 
  • Ask permission to talk about the topic with them.
  • Solicit support from siblings before the meeting.
  • Ask, ‘Were you involved in handling your parents’ affairs?” “How did you do it?”

If your parent does not cooperate, you might be forced to do some detective work. Keep a close eye on the checkbook, look for an abundance of new purchases, watch for physical injury such as bruises or limping, track how much medicine is being taken and how often prescriptions are being re-filled.

Another option is to ask the family doctor to speak with your parent. Many people are more comfortable revealing their fears and weaknesses with professional experts than with family members.
In the end, you as a caregiver can be as helpful as your parent will allow; but realize they must take responsibility for their actions.

Marilyn Sharbach Ladew is a nationally renowned expert in senior concerns, health and caregiving. She holds a Masters Degree in Social Work, owned a business that enabled seniors to stay in their homes and has counseled families through Hospice, hospital programs, and senior services. She also produced the Senior Focus nationally-syndicated radio program for four years.

Getting mom to exercise it’s about keeping it relative

As a teacher of movement and balance exercises for seniors in Independent and assisted living center, I run across a good number of seniors who are used to sitting and doing nothing during the course of a normal day. I find this to be true also of most over 80 seniors who are home bound. […]

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