Check on your elderly friends and family
By Dr. Veita Bland
At this time of the season I’d like to take this time to remind us all that we need to care for the older members of our family. As I slowly approach those years myself, I see so much in my patients that needs to be done.
Spend time with your older relatives and friends. Remember, some of their friends have gone on and loneliness is a major problem in this age group.
Spend some real time with them. How are they thinking? Are their clothes clean? Is the house in order? Is the house in disrepair? Is there food in the house? Are they losing weight? Are they taking their medications? Are their medicine bottles full or empty? Have they stopped some of their activities they used to love? Are there new dents or scratches on the car? Are their bills paid on time? Do they leave the house regularly? Are their unexplained bruises on the body? Is there any chance of elder abuse? Is their gait stable? Do they seem to fall? Have they withdrawn from life?
Many elderlies can hold it together for a phone call especially of short duration. Spend the time with your loved ones to really make sure they are doing well.
Have a conversation long before there are problems if possible, detailing how they want their final years spent. Do they want to stay at home? Are there provisions with insurance and the like in place to facilitate this? Do they want to be in an assisted living situation? Are there funds for this? Talk to an estate attorney and make plans. I hate to see family disagree when problems could have been avoided if there was planning during non-stress moments. Then the family can know what is wanted by the loved one.
Someone will have to be in charge, if not a family member then it will be the state.
As it gets cold, make sure that your loved ones have appropriate heating. Make sure the heater is inspected yearly and in good operating condition. Make sure the house is tight and your loved one will not be cold. The cold can adversely affect anyone’s health.
Quality food is important. High nutritional content is most important for the elderly as they tend to eat less, so nutrition should be in every spoonful of food. Make sure nutritional supplements are of good quality and appropriate. And make sure your loved one’s health care provider is aware of all supplements being taken. Such supplements should not be taken instead of food. Unfortunately, as people take more and more supplements, I have seen this substitution happen.
Make sure the house is safe and that loose rugs are not on the floor. Help keep the house straight to avoid devastating falls and bone fractures.
Encourage the elderly to exercise. Chair exercises are everywhere now. Show them how to look at them on the computer or TV. Look at their electronic devices. Make sure they are not set up to be scammed.
If they are no longer driving are services in place to take your loved one to medical appointments, grocery shopping, to church or to the movies?
Take the time to think about how you want to be treated as you get older and pay it forward. Many raised you and cared for you when you were young and could not care for yourself. Return the favor.
Dr. Veita Bland is a board-certified Greensboro physician and hypertension specialist. Dr. Bland’s radio show, “It’s a Matter of Your Health,” can be heard live on Wednesdays, 5:30 p.m. on N.C. A&T State University’s WNAA, 90.1 FM. Listeners may call in and ask questions. The show is replayed on Sirius 142 at 5 p.m. on Wed. Email Dr. Bland at firstname.lastname@example.org.