What happens when your aging parent just won’t listen?
That’s the feeling Susan Pineman often has about her active dad. He’s well into his seventies and has always worked with his hands, doing odd jobs around the house, but in recent years he’s been cautioned to stay off his feet.
Susan’s dad is diabetic and has been warned about persistent foot ailments, countless times. His doctor told him, point blank, he’d better curtail his heavy workload of house renovations, and protect his feet from injury, if he wants to avoid surgery and potentially losing one of his toes. Yet, Susan’s dad simply won’t ease his rigorous work schedule.
“Yesterday I came home and he’s on a ladder two stories up, in the front of the house,” says Susan. “He hired someone to do work on the roof, but won’t let the man do the work,” she continued. “He keeps getting involved, when he should be sitting down.”
Children of highly active, aging parents find this to be one of the most frustrating and difficult aspects of looking after them. When seniors have been active all of their lives, they simply do not want to sit in a rocking chair, passing time away, and sipping lemonade. Their sense of self-worth, personal fulfillment, and perhaps ego, is rooted in their active nature. It’s difficult for them to give this up, because it’s something they’ve always done. Most medical professionals agree, however, these seniors must be watched carefully.
“Sometimes an older person can become out of touch with declines in their overall health,” says Marie Lotshall, healthcare specialist. “Being active is good, but seniors must accept they’re simply not in the same condition as they may have been, decades earlier,” says Lotshall. “There may be risks associated with certain kinds of activity, depending on their medical condition.”
The best solution may be to preempt your overactive seniors by engaging others to do demanding work and getting your senior involved in other, less taxing activities. “A little psychology may be in order, “says Lotshall. “One way of curbing the wrong activity is to schedule safer and less strenuous activities,” she continues. She recommends planning outings to local attractions, visits with old friends, and other activities your parent may want to engage in but might not plan themselves.
Remember, home care is not just about addressing medications, aches, and pains, but thinking about how you’ll keep your senior feeling vibrant and active for years to come, so that psychological needs are equally fulfilled. So, get out your appointment book or smartphone and plan activities to keep your ambitious seniors engaged.