Midnight Sun Blog
You may be hesitant to start communicating with your loved one about their need of care. This becomes even more difficult when you suspect you will be met with resistance. They may feel it’s a sign of weakness to accept help or be worried about associated costs. Your loved one may be feeling frightened, vulnerable, or guilty about the idea of becoming a burden to friends and family.
Here are some tips to assist you in approaching this delicate subject. Choose a quiet space and a time when you are both relaxed and able to listen to one another. Be sure to ask questions about your loved ones preferences. What type of care do they want or need? While you may not be able to meet all of their wishes it is important to take them into consideration. Enlist the help of family and friends that may be able to help persuade your loved one to accept the help. Most importantly, don’t give up. If your loved one wasn’t ready or willing to discuss the topic when you first bring it up, try again later.
One thing is certain; your parents won’t likely be the ones who tell you they need help. Aging seniors have a strong desire to remain independent and in control of their own lives for as long as possible. Typically the aging senior will experience a traumatic event or wakeup call that leads to the realization that they need help. Because you are unable to anticipate your parents need for assistance until this traumatic event takes place, the emotional distress can make it very painful and difficult to make educated decisions that you are comfortable with. One way to avoid this is to start monitoring your parent’s physical and mental abilities and research options should your parents begin to show signs of needing assistance.
Here are some common indicators and telltale signs that your parents may need some help. Is it difficult for them to perform daily living activities, such as bathing, eating, walking or dressing? Look for changes in their physical appearance, poor hygiene, weight loss, marks that could indicate that they have fallen. Check for signs around the house, is there unopened mail, unfilled prescriptions, low food supply, or a yard or home interior that has not been maintained.
If you believe your parents are in need of assistance, the next step is to talk to them about their care needs. It is imperative that discussion of in home care with our elderly parent centers on your desire to help them understand that their care and quality of life is of great concern to you and to reassure them that they can stay in their own home while still receiving the care that they need.
Winter is upon us in Alaska and with the hustle and bustle throughout the holidays, we have some added concerns and precautions for our clients. If you share your home with or care for an elderly or disabled loved one, preventing falls is a top priority. Falls account for 25% of all elderly hospital admission and 40% of all nursing home admissions. We want to share with you the types of situations that we train our staff at Midnight Sun Home Care to recognize.
Let’s start from the bottom up; rugs are the number one danger zones for the elderly. One of the first things our staff looks for are doormats and loose rugs. The best solution to this is to remove your rugs from all walkways. Another major trouble spot is where the carpeting is coming loose. It takes just a few minutes to smooth these areas out and repair them with a hammer and some nails. Then there are the stairs, which can even be an issue inside a ranch-style home since so often there’s a step-down family area. We’ve found that even after years of habit, an elderly person will gratefully gravitate to using a handrail.
Here in Alaska...
Loneliness, especially, here in Alaska is a special challenge for our aging population. The children of the elderly have grown up and moved away. Even when they live nearby, they are involved with their own families and their own careers. Spouses pass away, friends move south and their circle closes while darkness and isolation set in. Especially here in Alaska, our harsh weather combines with diminishing social options and frailty to keep our seniors from enjoying much needed companionship.
And the affects of loneliness can be grave. Recent loneliness studies indicate that for most people, loneliness takes a toll on the subject’s health and causes many more psychological problems then we may have recognized.
Alaska has always enjoyed a youthful population. It’s partly our young military but beyond even that, our state has always attracted laborers and adventurers and outdoor enthusiasts who tend to be starting out in life--in their twenties and thirties.
But along with the rest of the country, even Alaska is getting older. We know how radically the aging baby boomers are affecting the national demographics but in a way they’re affecting us even more. The growth in percentages of our senior population is now and is expected to be almost twice as rapid as for the country as a whole. According to projections we’ll stay one of the youngest states but there is a trend. More Alaskans are aging and more of them are staying put. Indeed our state government has introduced programs that assist an older population and encourage it to retire in state. And it’s working. In 2006 only 6.7 of us were 65 and older. By 2026 that figure is projected to more then doubled to over 14 %.
Which is fine. Alaska has a rich tradition, passed down by our natives, of cherishing and honoring elders. Our children’s lives will be enriched by the loving concern of their grandparents and beyond just the family, our increasing maturity will encourage us as all to grow in foresight and wisdom. That being said however, a growing elderly population will is certain introduce problems that our communities may not be fully prepared to handle.