There are many reasons that family members become concerned that an elderly loved one is not doing well. One issue that is a cause for concern is bathing or rather the lack thereof. A parent not bathing is a topic that many families are reluctant to discuss as they may be uncomfortable bringing it up. But be assured that this is an issue that many people face. It is common…but there may be multiple root causes. It is important to understand why they are reluctant. Only when you understand that the underlying reasons can you better approach and address successfully. Let’s look at some of the more common reasons.
- Fear of Falling
The bathroom can be a very dangerous place. If you have every slipped in the shower, you can relate. Now you pair the environment with physical issues like foot problems, balance issues, arthritis and more…and you have a recipe for disaster and fear.
Often elderly have issues with depression that can zap their get up and go. When you lack motivation, bathing and concerns for your grooming often go by the wayside.
- Cognitive Issues
Another reason that is very common are memory issues. If your parent has dementia or other cognitive decline, keeping up with a bathing schedule can be extremely difficult. Realizing that you haven’t taken a bath is not something they may be able to keep up with easily.
While it may be a difficult subject to approach, you must develop a plan. For some simply adding grab bars or safety equipment may help. Some may be able to follow a chart. But if it is a depression or memory issue, it may be time to consider getting help. As always discuss your concerns with a doctor. A physician may want to consider medications to help with depression. It may be time to enlist the help of a caregiver or look into an assisted living community where your loved one can have daily assistance with their activities of daily life like bathing and grooming. But don’t avoid the topic because it is messy and uncomfortable. The health benefits of cleanliness are far too important to ignore.
Recently someone said to me that I seemed to always have it together. Me? Together? Now that is funny! Most days I feel like I am chasing my tail. Did they know my day that morning started with dry shampoo?? But isn’t that life? Most of us are convinced that everyone else always has it TOGETHER. We envision everyone with cleaner houses, perfectly cooked dinners and flawless families. In reality, we are all doing our best…to do our best. One thing that will de-rail our “best” in a hurry is stress. It is very common to hear from families of seniors dealing with “role reversal” that it is one of the most stressful tasks they have ever endured. It’s one thing to raise and help our children…but when it comes to helping our parents…this is no easy task. We don’t want to disrespect, but we also want to keep them safe. Here are some tips to help you be proactive and avoid making situations frustrating for both you and your loved ones.
Don’t forget your Vitamin ZZZZZ
It sounds simple, but get your sleep! According to the National Sleep Foundation, most adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep each night for optimum performance, health, and safety. The Foundation advises: “When we don’t get adequate sleep, we accumulate a sleep debt that can be difficult to “pay back” if it becomes too big. The resulting sleep deprivation has been linked to health problems such as obesity and high blood pressure, negative mood and behavior.” Getting a good night sleep is important to your health and will help you be more effective in helping others and that includes your elderly parents.
Track Down a Paper Trail
According to AARP, an important part of getting things untangled for your elderly parents is organizing paperwork and documentation. “The first thing to do is ask your parents where they store important papers. It may be in a file cabinet at home, or in a safety deposit box or with an attorney. You can’t get organized if you can’t find anything, so come up with a checklist to write down where everything is. Documents that should be assembled and accounted for include”:
- birth certificate
- marriage certificate
- death certificate (for deceased spouse)
- divorce papers
- military records
- driver’s license/organ donor card
- passport/citizen papers
- living will
- durable power of attorney
- health care power of attorney
- letter of instruction — with funeral arrangements, important contact information such as insurance agent or broker.
- insurance policies (life, disability, long-term care)
- information about safety deposit boxes (e.g., location, number, key)
Remember to Enjoy Each Other
In this fast-paced world that we all get caught up in, it seems we can lose sight of the things that are important. Yes, making sure that everyone is safe and sound is huge! But Mom may also really enjoy sharing a cup of coffee with you. Dad may want to talk about the weather. Take time to enjoy the blessings each day. These small moments together will become larger than life soon enough. Make time to take time and as my Mom reminds me when I feel I’m at my wits end…just breathe.
If it is time to help Mom or Dad look at the option of Assisted Living please give us a call today. We would love to have you and your loved one come have lunch with us and see all that our communities have to offer.
Get more information at www.greatoaksmanagement.com