We all love our parents and want to avoid conflicts. Unfortunately, there comes a time where you must advocate for your parents, regardless of how they feel about it. It’s a touchy subject because your elderly parents may be very proud individuals. They may feel that you advocating on their behalf is a form of holding their hand – something they certainly do not want you to do. Today we’ll review how you can be an advocate for your elderly parents and keep their dignity intact.
Understanding What an Advocate Is
In general, an advocate is a person who supports a person or cause. We hear of advocating for those without a voice, such as a child. However, as your parents age, they too will have needs that need to be addressed. It will be up to you to think of and voice their concerns.
As their child, you want to look out for your parent’s well-being. This can be difficult as an adult child because you are so used to your parents looking out for your well-being. Your parents are proud, and it will be hard for them to succumb to your advice, even if it’s in their best interest.
Safety Concerns May Hinder Their Freedom
As your elder, your parent is going to look at themselves as being the boss. In wanting their independence, they are not going to acknowledge certain situations that will place them in harm’s way. Your parents want to:
• Arrange their home a certain way
• Eat the foods they want to eat
• Go and come as they please (drive)
• Spend their money, how they see fit
Now you, looking from the outside in, know some of these situations are a safety concern. Your parents may need their furniture rearranged, so they do not trip and fall. They also should not be forced to reach high for objects. They may be diabetic and can’t eat too many sweets. They may have arthritis or failing eyesight and are not able to drive well. They may mismanage their funds, not accounting for future medication coverage and caregiver needs.
The bottom line is, you won’t be as popular with your elderly parent any longer. Try to be as sensitive as possible when addressing your concern, and let them know you are advocating for their best interest.
Sit down with your elderly parent and come up with creative ways around these issues so they don’t feel like all their independence has been stripped. Relocate dangerous items in the home. Give them a choice of safer alternative locations to move the items to. Develop a meal plan that includes your parent favorite food item once a week.
Sign your elderly parents up with a senior transportation company that will get them to their most frequent locations such as the grocery store. You can help them learn to shop and pay bills online versus going out as much. You can get them a prepaid debit card to help them manage their spending habits. Just ensure that for every restriction, you work out a solution to help them maintain their independence.
Ensure They are Protected at Home
So what dangers lurk around the home? Well, your parent’s favorite oriental rug can be a great danger to them. Their shoe could get caught, and they can trip and fall. Another danger in the home is a stove. An elderly parent’s senses will start to fade, and a strong sense of smell is one of them. They may not sense the smell of gas leakage or fire in the home.
Many senior accidents in the home start in the bathroom. If your parent has hip or leg problems, getting in and out of the bathtub could present a very dangerous situation to your elderly parents. It’s best to have an occupational therapist who specializes in senior care to come out to your parent’s home for a home safety inspection.
Attend All Appointments with Them
Advocating on behalf of your elderly parent is about more than speaking to them directly. You also will incur times where you need to speak on their behalf to others. Attending their medical appointments is a great start. Be active in their health care choices such as additional prescriptions, surgeries, and therapy sessions. If you don’t agree with the procedure, speak up.
Your parent may be afraid to talk to their doctor for fear of being placed on more medications. They may honestly forget to mention an ailment that presents itself only once a month. You need to voice your concerns to their primary care physician.
The above three scenarios are all great ways to start advocating for your elderly parents. This list is not all inclusive, so it’s up to you to pay attention and accommodate their needs.