How to help aging parents (and not go crazy)

How to help aging parents (and not go crazy)
How to help aging parents (and not go crazy)

DO offers a behavioral strategy to match the needs of older people with your abilities.

How to help aging parents (and not go crazy)

Five years ago, 40-year-old Vera was afraid of her mother - she was always very strict and sharp-tongued. However, Vera knew for sure that her mother could solve any problem, give an assessment to any person and any situation, always maintaining calm and a sensible view of things. Mom dressed chic, regularly visited a beautician and scolded Vera for "laxity and softness." Now everything is different. Vera is forced to control her mother's every step: did she eat, put on a skirt, turned off the gas, took pills and hid a cup of tea in the nightstand. In just a few years, an imperious and intelligent woman has turned into an awkward and ridiculous old woman who can put on a nightgown, beads, a hat and go out into the street in this form, and she can wander there until midnight. In the end, after another complaint from the neighbors, Vera had to move her mother to her place, because she was afraid to leave her at home alone.

“The most terrible thing,” Vera admits, “was to realize that my mother, whom I knew all my life, is gradually disappearing. She still remembers that I am her daughter, but she is already confused about the events of her and my life … And I struggle with irritation and shame, which I often feel for her in front of my friends. And I feel terribly guilty for these emotions.” Vera had a particularly hard time when her second child was born. She decided to hire a nurse for her mother, but it turned out to be too much for the family budget.

Faith is not alone in facing such problems. Aging parents demand more and more attention, and their children, who already have families of their own, are torn between the needs of the old and the small. According to sociologists, there are now about 30 million elderly people in Russia, and 4.5% of them are over 75 years old. About a third of all older people admit that they often find it difficult to take care of themselves, and 31-40% of those who are over 80 suffer from dementia (dementia).

The services of a permanent nurse today, not everyone can afford. In Moscow, for example, it will cost 1200-1500 rubles. per day plus travel expenses. The constant presence of a nurse (work with accommodation) today is at least 17 thousand rubles. per month. In addition, this market has not yet become civilized, and there is always the danger of fraud on the part of those in whose care an elderly person remains. There is another option - a well-maintained nursing home, which will provide care. There are still very few of them, but they appear and in terms of comfort they are approaching their Western counterparts. One of the most famous is the Nikolsky Park boarding house, which has been operating in Zelenograd near Moscow for three years. A beautiful building on the lake, specially equipped rooms, good food and constant medical supervision - all this will cost at least 1900 rubles. per night (when staying in a standard room).

Recently there was information that Senior Hotel Group intends to attract investors and build about 25 elite nursing homes in Russia, in the expectation that many will agree to pay 150 euros per day. In many countries of Western Europe, moving from one's home to such a boarding house is not uncommon. Elderly people, fearing loneliness and helplessness, sell their homes and move to where they will not be lonely and afraid. However, even in prosperous England, where nursing homes are quite comfortable, doctors admit that about 8% of old people die in the first year of their stay in a nursing home - chronic diseases worsen from stress and a sudden change of scenery.

But you can help your parents live a happy old age without major expenses. Many of the problems of the elderly come not so much from age, but from a lack of understanding by others of a person's needs, from unsuitable living conditions, from neglect of his capabilities.

He alth and fitness

When equipping the life of an elderly person, first of all, one must keep in mind the characteristics of the body.

• Visual acuity decreases, especially peripheral. Therefore, an elderly person does not fix his gaze on objects well, he does not see well what is on the side. Vision can deteriorate quite quickly, so it is very important to consult an ophthalmologist every six months. Twilight is the most unfavorable lighting, so during the day you need to open the curtains on the windows, and immediately turn on the lamps at dusk. Try not to rearrange or rearrange objects unnecessarily in the room where an elderly person lives, otherwise it will be difficult for him to navigate.

• Hearing deteriorates, and this greatly affects the well-being in general. The person begins to feel helpless, easily irritated. If necessary, buy a hearing aid and periodically check to see if it works. When talking, do not turn away, do not cover your face with your hands. People with hearing loss often learn to read lips. It is better to speak in short phrases, lowering your voice if possible (low tones are perceived easier than high ones), and in no case shout or rush.

• The sense of smell becomes dull with age, because of this, food may seem tasteless and insipid to an elderly person. In order to avoid this, you can add spices, delicious-smelling herbs to food. A weakening sense of smell sometimes poses a danger: an elderly person may not notice the smell of gas, not feel the smoke, or eat spoiled food. Therefore, it is necessary to install smoke detectors in the apartment, a stove with a blocking system that blocks the flow of gas to the burner when the fire goes out.

• Tactile sensations also change, people's ability to make small movements worsens - they awkwardly take objects, they can drop them, injuring themselves. Try to choose dishes with comfortable large handles, a comfortable cane, and stable shoes for an elderly person. However, older people are in great need of touch - hugs, strokes, shaking hands. Doctors say that tactile contact maintains self-confidence, gives a feeling of being needed and in demand.

• The slow reaction to temperature changes that is typical for old people is dangerous - a person does not immediately feel a hot frying pan, too hot water in the bathroom, can stand barefoot on an icy floor for a while, etc. Just take care of this in advance, for example, by installing a temperature-limited faucet, laying a carpet on the floor, buying pots with non-heating handles, etc.

• As you know, older people often get cold - due to age-related violations of heat transfer, so they should have warm home clothes, a good blanket. But you have to be extremely careful with electric heating pads and blankets - it's best not to use them in your sleep. The fact is that the elderly have problems with the bladder (by the way, therefore, the room where the eldest family member lives should be close to the toilet) and in the event of an unexpected "trouble" a circuit may occur. Insulate the windows, put in batteries with thermoregulation (the optimum temperature is +21°C), and you will see how a comfortable "climate" means a lot to old people, they become less irritable and grouchy.

• Hair loss hurts older people very much, especially women - because of this they often become depressed. You can try to improve the situation by changing the hair dye to a more gentle one, and the metal comb to a wooden one. If all else fails, buy an older woman a matching wig. But in any case, frequent washing, combing, haircuts increase self-esteem, improve mood.

Mood and mental he alth

The main fear of an elderly person is indicated by one word - "uselessness". Even with ideal care, people who do not feel involved in society, family, and loved ones fade away very quickly. Hence the conclusion: it is necessary to involve a person as actively as possible in everyday family affairs, as long as possible to keep him performing simple duties. This is important for maintaining mobility, and for peace of mind. At the same time, the elderly get tired quickly, easily lose the thread of the conversation, forget what was discussed. Therefore, if you turn off the TV or music center during a conversation with them, mutual understanding will improve. The older a person is, the more difficult it is for him to be in a large society: he is lost, the sounds merge into a uniform rumble, against which it is difficult for him to catch the meaning of the conversation. Therefore, the arrival of several people at once can be a disaster for the elderly. Talking face to face - you will help the old person feel much calmer.

Forgetfulness in the elderly is becoming a real problem. Very often it becomes the first symptom of dementia (dementia). You can slow down this process if you understand the mechanism of short-term memory lapses: a person perfectly remembers his wedding day, describes in detail the birth of his first child or the end of the war, but cannot give a confident answer whether he had breakfast today. Experts say that the memory is like a fenced-off area of ​​the field, which has a gate. The information that has passed through the gate remains in place, but the gate closes - and nothing else can get inside. Therefore, do not scold the elderly person. Say "You already had breakfast today", but don't add "Don't you remember?", which can upset him for the whole day.

When the disease intensifies, signs with explanations attached to objects, appliances and doors of rooms will help. If a person begins to confuse the days of the week, months and dates, a tear-off calendar, photographs of relatives and friends with large signatures hung on the walls will help. Try not to change the usual stop - even changing the coverlet on the bed can confuse the old person, he will not know where to sleep.

Irritability and moodiness can have many causes - from uncomfortable clothing to feeling addicted. Try to give the elderly person more independence, independence, if at the same time he does not harm himself. The less he will decide and do himself, the faster dementia will progress. Encourage intellectual activity - crosswords, board games, reading newspapers and books, helping grandchildren with homework.


If an elderly person is left alone for a long time

• Hang a sheet on the wall with the necessary phone numbers - relatives, neighbors, clinic reception, local social organization (with the names of social workers, if they provide assistance).

• Take the time to meet social workers in person - get to know them better.

• If you know that an elderly person hides important papers and money in "caches", talk to him, ask him to show you these places and explain that in an emergency every minute spent searching for documents is valuable.

• Keep copies of your pension certificate, passbook, proof of home ownership, etc.

What to read about it

• “To help an elderly person. Benefit for the elderly, as well as for those who care for them "K. G. Efremova, S. A. Anufriev and others.

• "Make your home comfortable when age fails" D. Kaston

• "If your loved one is mentally ill" R. Vulis

• "Practical psychology of old age" by M. Ermolaev

What you need to know about benefits, discounts and compensations

In addition to official benefits for pensioners and the disabled (this information can always be found on the website of the Ministry of Social and He alth Development:, many commercial organizations enable older people to receive services cheaper.

• For example, in the capital's baths one day a week pensioners are given a 50% discount.

• Almost all modern cinemas have introduced the practice of selling tickets for afternoon and morning screenings on weekdays, cheap tickets for pensioners (from 50 to 100 rubles).

• Few people know: from July 1, 2008, those who care for the elderly who need care at the conclusion of a doctor, a disabled person of group I, or who have reached 80 years of age, are en titled to compensation in the amount of 1,200 rubles.

Useful things

In touch

The Internet is a real godsend for an elderly person. On the one hand, mastering the computer and working with it support mental activity and train the brain. On the other hand, the Internet allows you to receive information on any topic and, thirdly, it makes up for the lack of communication. In the Netherlands, people over 50 make up a quarter of all Internet users, and in Israel, 45%. The Russian-language Web has already created a sufficient number of resources specifically designed for users of the “50+”.

Here are some of them:

• Virtual school for inexperienced Internet users. Helps to navigate the web and select information on hobbies: books, gardening, travel, etc.

• Collection of useful links, documents, coordinates of social organizations.

• "School of the Third Age" - a virtual part of the St. Petersburg club of the same name.

• - site under the motto "Better half of life". Articles, tips, helpful documents and links.

• - dating, articles, search for common hobbies.

• is one of the world's largest communication sites for older people. Suitable for those who know English, German, French.

Alzheimer's disease: how to live with it

This insidious and yet incurable disease affects mainly the elderly - after 65 years, the likelihood of getting it doubles. The disease is based on the gradual destruction of cells and tissues of the brain, especially those parts of it that are responsible for memory and thinking. The disease, as a rule, lasts 5-10 years: gradually a person loses memory, abstract thinking, mathematical abilities, the personality as a whole disintegrates, stops moving and speaks clearly, does not recognize loved ones and cannot serve himself. Today, Alzheimer's disease has been well learned to identify and, with the help of drugs, alleviate its manifestations, alleviate the condition of both the patient himself and his relatives. But it is very important to recognize the first symptoms in time, distinguishing them from simple senile forgetfulness, and take the person to the doctor.


• difficulty finding words in conversation;

• impairment of short-term memory;

• serious difficulty in making independent decisions;

• one gets lost easily, especially in unusual surroundings;

• time disorientation;

• the initiative and motivation to act, indifference and isolation disappear;

• difficulty doing difficult household chores (eg cooking);

• Loss of interest in their hobbies and other previously loved activities. Gradually, as the disease develops, forgetfulness sharply increases, the person becomes helpless, cannot serve himself on his own and ceases to understand that he is sick. There are tendencies to vagrancy (he constantly breaks out of the house), sometimes - visual hallucinations. At a late stage, the patient ceases to recognize loved ones, cannot move, speak and understand speech.

How to arrange life if there is a sick person next to you?

1. Establish a daily routine in which there are habitual activities, thereby saving the patient from making decisions.

2. Give the opportunity to do what you love: working in the country, carpentry, knitting, etc. Any physical activity can slow down the manifestations of the disease.

3. Do not draw the attention of the patient to his failures - this leads to stress in himself and, as a result, to even more problems.

4. Ensure safety in the home: remove piercing and cutting objects, household poisons and medicines, turn off the gas, install locks on windows, etc.

5. Do not change the usual arrangement of things in the house where the patient lives: do not rearrange the furniture, leave free passages, do not shift the things that he uses.

6. Maintain communication with the patient, try to speak clearly, slowly, looking into the eyes. Listen to him, even if the stories seem ridiculous. Treat with respect, maintain self-esteem in the patient.

7. Avoid clothes with complex fasteners, small buttons, giving preference to elastic bands, Velcro, zippers. Do not rush the patient when dressing, let's get dressed ourselves.

8. Try to cut food into small pieces, as in the later stages of the disease it can be difficult for a person to chew and swallow normally.

9. If the patient often loses things or accuses others of stealing, look for places where he can hide things. Keep duplicate keys and glasses handy. Hide the original documents: passport, pension certificate, property documents. Check trash cans before throwing out trash.

10. If a person leaves home, he can get lost and even go to another city. Make sure that in the pockets of clothes there is always a note with the address and phone number of relatives. Have a recent photograph of the patient with you so it will be easier to find him. Try attaching shatterproof mirrors to all doors, your own reflection in the mirror may distract from the intention to open the door.

11. Try to remain calm, do not respond with aggression to the aggressive behavior of the patient. Try to track what causes his outbursts of anger, switch attention to other, calmer things.

12. Do not reject the help of family members, do not take on the whole burden of care. Leave time for yourself and get rid of guilt if you go to the cinema, to a restaurant, to friends. Don't beat yourself up - Alzheimer's affects people regardless of social status, education, skin color.

By the way, many hairdressers offer discounts for the elderly - ask about it in the salons closest to your home. In the capital, a decree of the Government of Moscow provides for social assistance to the elderly living alone - in addition to cleaning the apartment, changing linen and nursing services, the number of services includes shampooing, cutting and styling hair. If the pensioner's income is less than 150% of the official living wage, these services are provided free of charge, you just need to write an application to social services.

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