Minimize emotional pain among the elderly and aging

 

One always hopes that as medical practitioners, we will be able to focus our attention on the medical issues faced by seniors and help families cope with the fears, disappointments and tragedies that are faced by loved ones in the midst of what are often life-altering illnesses. In short, as physicians, we want to minimize emotional pain among the elderly and aging.

Throughout our initial medical training, and most often during post-graduate training programs, the primary focus in general is: what is the “best of medicine” and what does “evidence-based medicine” tell us about treatment decisions and their ultimate impact on health, well-being and, often, the likelihood of death? 

This is particularly the case in the care of the older adult – whether in geriatric medicine or eldercare.

What is often surprising and baffling, especially to younger physicians, is the situation where the core of what appears to be the challenge in care provision is negatively tinged by what might be called family “strife.” 

At times, however, a more appropriate term would be venomous, hateful actions—actions that ultimately will be destructive to the family fabric. This should not be 
surprising to anyone who has even a modest understanding and familiarity with the world of literature—whether limited to English works, or more broadly including European or other literature.

Those medical trainees who have worked with me have in all likelihood heard me either seriously or humorously say, “If I were king, all first degrees would be in English literature.” Or when there is a complex family dynamic playing out, I might say, “It’s King Lear—if you have not read it ever or lately, read it or read it again—it’s all there.”

Sometimes I feel like that great American comic Jimmy Durante, who was quoted as saying, “I have a million of them, a million of them,” referring to his often delectable jokes. According to an online biographical history, it has been said that “I’ve got a million of ’em” is what Durante (1893-1980) often said after telling a corny joke. Durante was credited with “I’ve got a million of ’em” in a 1929 newspaper story.

I say this when referring to complex family situations in which what appears to be the worst in human interactions seems to be playing out. Often the issue is related to money (or property), and if one is in a position to hear the story from all the parties, it often becomes clear that, for whatever reason, the pot has come to a boil at this juncture of life.

This is usually because the flame heating the water that’s not boiling has been on for what appears to have been many years. Most of us know of such stories, hopefully not in our own families, but it is unlikely that there is a family who is not familiar with a “Lear-like” scenario in someone close to them. 

Greed, jealousy, hurtful memories, mean-spirited personalities, events that occurred—sometimes decades earlier— that were never resolved or that left indelible scars are often the reasons cited for the enmity I have had the good fortune to observe that, on some occasions, especially when a parent, in particular, is dying, though it could be another relative, there is the possibility of repairing long held animosities and bringing long-estranged family members back together. 

It does not always succeed, but I have witnessed the monumental efforts of health-care staff—especially those in social work, nursing and medicine, although any and all of the health-care staff can be key—in bridging the emotional moat that often separates family members. It may not always work, but I believe it is always worth the effort.

Living with the result of lifelong family strife is often disabling, and the scars that occur and that are left can have long-lasting negative effects on people’s lives and their own abilities to have meaningful and binding relationships with their siblings and offspring.

Elderly financial abuse

ELderly financil abuse keeps getting a bigger issue.

As an elder, or more often as the child of an enderly parent or relative, please take a vary careful look at anything that's offered, foisted, pressed on you… 

We're seeing more and more scames being launched onto the elderly.

Please take a careful double look… examine, consider, and don't buy in right away!

See this site for more…

http://www.ctvnews.ca/5things/how-to-thwart-growing-threat-of-elderly-financial-abuse-1.3460984

Care costs for aging parents higher

 

A recent CIBC study reported by CTV news reveals that the care costs for aging parents are ever higher and higher.

It notes that there are the direct costs of caring for aging parents, and then the indirect costs, like lost worktime.

Read the story here: www.ctvnews.ca/business/caring-for-aging-parents-costs-canadians-33b-a-year-survey-1.3402778

A last wish: to die at home

Have you heard this from an aging parent? "It's a last wish: to die at home".

I've heard that from hundreds of families.

And it's not an unrealistic wish.

There is a certain comfort and dignity to being able to die in one's own bed, in one's own home. Clearly this is not an option for a parent whose been institutionalized in a hospital or nursing home. Howevever, it seems that dying at home with the appropriate care for someone who is sliding toward the end can be accommodated. 

Hospic-like arrangements can be provided in the home, and ideally as much of the broader family would be engaged in the process.

This also can allow time to share memories, and if possible photos.

It's worth exporing if the circumstances are right.

Family in need is family indeed: the sandwich generation

The sandwich generation has a challenge. Why?

Because many of us have it coming and going.


‘Coming’ is our now adult kids who rediscover home as a good, safe, and, to tell the whole truth, financially very convenient place to be for a while. It might be for lack of a job or a failed marriage or simply rents getting too high. But consider that ‘for a while’ can become pretty open ended.


‘Going’ is our now ever more elderly and frail parents, who brave on and still want to command our lives, but who, in fact, are in every more need of help and support. The occasional dollop of help has become the daily routine.


And we’re stuck in the middle, striving to balance both being good parents and good children and often rationalizing that we can handle push and shove at the same time without imploding or exploding. We’re the shoulder generation, carrying a lot on those shoulders.
Are you into this scene? Is coming and going becoming a real part of your real life? If it is, what are you doing about it? Why? And how? Because in your own self interest, you should.

 

A housing crisis for seniors

According to this informative article that appeared in the New York times, we are into a housing crisis for seniors. This should not be a suprise to any of us who have or will confront the challenge of finding quality, affordable housing for our elderly parents when they need it.

Read it here:  https://nyti.ms/2jBSNHu

 

 

Don’t let spring cleaning become spring falling for the elderly

It just happened to my wife, an avid early morning walker. She does everything ‘right’ in terms of the ‘right’ shoes, coat, scarf, hat—you name it –she does it. The only thing she does not do is make sure the weather is perfect and receptive to activities of middle, later age, and elderly individuals. 

Continue reading “Don’t let spring cleaning become spring falling for the elderly”

Falling down: Accept your fate and roll with it

Falling down: Accept your fate and roll with it is a very timely and helpful piece that appeared in
The Globe and Mail Metro (Ontario Edition) on January 26, written by KATE MURPHY
KATHY OSBORN of the New York Times. It's a good 'heads up' for aging boomers and our elderly parents and other loved ones.


Rare is the individual who hasn’t tripped over a pet or uneven pavement, tumbled off a bike, slipped on ice or maybe wiped out skiing or skating.


Some get injured while others go unhurt – often claiming it’s because they knew how to fall.

Continue reading “Falling down: Accept your fate and roll with it”

Our annual eldercare advice for the holidays

This seems to be a big favourite year over year:

Suggestions of how to bet support aging parents and loved ones through family events.

Please take a look, and share with your friends, too.

Here it is:  http://www.parentingyourparents.ca/plan-good-holida…derly-loved-ones/ ‎

Caring for a parent afflicted with Alzheimers

Caring for a parent afflicated with Alzheimers is challenging.

Listen here https://soundcloud.com/680cjob/parenting-our-parents​ as Dr. Michael Gordan discusses key considerations in a CJOB 680 interivew with host Jeff Currier in Winnipeg.