Intervene to protect elderly parents | Healthquest | -- Your State. Your News.

Apr 25th
  • Login
  • Create an account
  • Search
  • Local Business Deals

Intervene to protect elderly parents

eldercare031411_optBY CAROL ABAYA

Question: "My father, 86, lives alone, takes six different medicines, has lost weight in the past six months, and 'wanders.' He’s very independent, and my sister says, 'Leave him alone. This is what he wants.' Should I leave him alone?"

Answer: No. You should not leave him alone! You should aggressively intervene in your father’s daily life activities because he is at great risk both medically and mentally. If he wanders, he is also at risk at the physical level.

His weight loss and wandering are key triggers for active intervention. You should talk with his doctors to see why he is taking all of this medicine. Drugs can result in loss of appetite (hence weight loss) and confusion (hence the wandering).

If he is not eating properly because he can’t or doesn’t like to cook, take steps to make sure he has appropriate food/meals available on a regular basis.

Question: My parents (late 70s) are very independent. When I make suggestions about their doing things differently, they tell me to mind my own business. When should I insist on changes?

Answer: I don’t know what you mean by “changes.” But there are three key areas where an adult child should intervene in a parent’s life. Otherwise leave them alone. There are the top reasons people over 65 end up in hospital emergency rooms and in many cases these visits could have been prevented.

Prevent falls by safety proofing the house or apartment. Check and eliminate problems in regards to steps, carpeting, lighting, electrical wires, rugs, bathroom safety, trailing telephone wires. Put handrails in the bathroom and help them reorganize cabinets so that things they use most often are at reachable levels (without a step stool).

Make sure nutrition is appropriate. If they are not cooking on a regular basis, pack precooked food in single serving bags. They can easily microwave the food. Food poisoning is top on emergency room visit list. So, clean out the refrigerator on a regular basis. Also, get them help with shopping.

Make sure medicines are taken properly and continually monitor meds for true need. Seniors are notorious for taking too many unneeded medicines.

If parents are at risk in any of these areas, aggressive action is warranted. Even though a parent may protest, Sandwich Generationers need to take the leadership role.

Question: "My mother refuses to use light bulbs that make it easier to see or read. She’ll sit in her chair and lean over to hold a book under the light, with a 60 watt bulb. She says she can’t afford high electric bills. I’ve tried to get her to use 100 watt bulbs. She refuses."

Answer: Using 100 watt bulbs, as opposed to 60 or 75 watt ones, does not use more electricity and therefore will not cost more.

If your mother refuses to use 100 watt bulbs, you should do put them in the new 60 watt bulb cartons she may have in the closet. Few people check the bulb itself after removing it from the carton.

The Sandwich Generation is reader interactive. Questions and comments are welcome. Contact Carol Abaya through her website or e-mail This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .


Best holiday gift for the elderly is your time

'How to Turn Anger into Love' book and reducing elder caregiver stress

Caregivers for elderly need to recharge during holidays

The 7 stages of Alzheimer's Disease and when to seek treatment

N.J. study reveals Alzheimer’s progression may be reversed with new drugs

Love is meaningful to the elderly

Start saying 'NO' to elder care demands: You aren’t Superwoman

Elderly have the right to refuse medical treatment

Adult children should not force aging parents to move in

Don't make every decision for aging parents

Learn to say 'no' to parents’ demands and find a support system

Creativity at any age brings new life to elders

Family and friends should watch closely for signs of elder abuse

Age should not stop pain relieving surgery

Studies show anger can kill either caregiver or elder

Elder caregivers need to be top on their own priority list

Cuts to reverse mortgage counseling pose risk to seniors


Add your comment

Your name:

Follow/join us

Twitter: njnewsroom Linked In Group: 2483509