By Rick Banas of Gardant Management Solutions
Unfortunately, while research strongly indicates that chronic disease and frailty are not normal consequences of aging, there is a significant likelihood that your parents will experience changes in their health as they grow older.
The changes can be major, occurring in the blink of an eye. They can be subtle, happening gradually over an extended period of time.
The National Council on Aging estimates that about four out of five older adults have at least one chronic health condition and two out of three have more than one.
Chronic health conditions and frailty can place a major burden on your parents and your family. They can result in your parents having to give up independence much too early in life. They increase the likelihood of your parents dying earlier.
Fortunately, there are steps your parents can take to reduce their risk of developing health problems. There are things they can do to manage chronic medical conditions and improve their quality of life.
There are several ways sons, daughters and other family members can be of help.
Make suggestions and provide encouragement.
Check for signs of any changes in their physical, brain or emotional health. We have provided a checklist of things to look for when you are visiting in-person, talking on the phone, or connecting through Skype, Facetime or other social application.
Document your findings in a diary or journal. Note the date, time of day and nature of what you saw or heard. Your documentation can be helpful to health care providers. It can show trends and changes in frequency. Your documentation also can prove useful in conversations with your parents and other family members about the situation.
Do whatever you can to make sure your parents are promptly bringing any changes to the attention of their doctor.
Ask your parents what their doctor recommended. Check back with your parents to see if they are following the recommendations.
Don’t assume that you or your parents know what is causing a health problem. For example, Alzheimer’s disease or related dementia may not be the reason for confusion. The reason could be a urinary tract infection, a new medication or combination of medications, stroke, depression or other health issue.
We hope you find this information helpful.
Be sure to contact us at Gardant or one of the communities we operate if you should be in need of information or have any questions about assisted living, senior living or memory care.
Rick Banas is VP of Development and Positioning for Gardant Management Solutions. This year, he has been nominated for two WEGO Health Awards, including Best in Show: Twitter and Lifetime Achievement. You can endorse Rick’s nominations by clicking here.