Aging is often accompanied by growing health issues. Seniors often face a variety of health decisions that can be fairly overwhelming. As a caregiver and family member, you may need to step in and assist your aging loved one with difficult decisions. If you want to make sure your loved one is making the best possible choices for his or her health, there are a few things you can do.
Provide Information About Health Conditions
No one can make the right healthcare decisions if they know nothing about their health. Do what you can to provide your loved one with the necessary information. Consider asking if you can visit the doctor together, and research any conditions your loved one might have. Look into activities, therapies, and treatments that can help your loved one manage the problems he or she faces. However, you may want to avoid overwhelming your loved one with information. Share highlights and summaries of medical information instead of spending hours speaking in medical jargon.
Talk Openly About Health Issues
Many seniors fear discussing physical or mental health issues because they don’t want to look fragile or old. Accept that your loved one may not come to you for help with decisions, so you may have to bring it up yourself. Pick a time when everyone is calm and not in a hurry to bring up health concerns. Ask your loved one how much he or she wants you to be involved and what you can do to help. Try to emphasize how much you love your parent and how concerned you are instead of sounding like you’re judging his or her health choices.
Figure Out Whether You May Need Power Of Attorney
There may come a time when your loved one is no longer capable of making decisions independently. Of course you may disagree with certain choices occasionally, but if your loved one is so impaired that he or she is no longer safe, it’s time to step in. In this case, consult with a physician about declaring your loved one legally incompetent, and talk to an attorney about getting power of attorney for your loved one. Having power of attorney allows you to make decisions about your loved one’s health.
Encourage Retaining Agency Over Health
Even if you’ve stepped in to help your loved one manage his or her health, it’s important to remember no one likes losing their independence. Help your loved one retain a sense of freedom by offering choices instead of bossing him or her around. For example, saying “Would you rather take your medicine now or wait until your television show is over?” may be more effective than just ordering your loved one to take medication.