How to communicate with elderly parents so that their old age is not a burden to anyone?
We are used to respecting the elderly, but we don’t know how to understand… How should we communicate with elderly parents so that their old age is not a burden to anyone?
Life expectancy in developed countries is steadily increasing, and the number of older people is increasing every year. In our country, however, the situation is paradoxical: fewer people live in Russia (average life expectancy is 67 years), but the number of old people is growing. According to statistics, every fifth Russian is a pensioner. But it's no secret that older people are far from the most prosperous part of the population. Complaints that life in old age is hard are heard from all sides. In gerontology, a science that studies the problems of aging, there is even such a concept - “happy old age” and “painful old age”. Are we able to change something for the better for our old parents? How to help them and make their old age happy, despite illnesses, small pensions, rude doctors in the clinic and their eternal employment and haste? All the troubles that fall on the shoulders of an elderly person cannot be counted. Nevertheless, our experts are sure that old age can be a joy. Shall we check?
“Mom has multiple sclerosis. I'm afraid that someday she will forget to turn off the water, gas and start a fire or a flood.”
Sclerotic brain changes are inevitable in old age. The first signs of sclerosis: a person suddenly forgets on the go what he wanted to say, the names and surnames of his friends, and then loses things. Many attribute such forgetfulness to fatigue, absent-mindedness. In fact, after the age of 40, most people should start taking memory-enhancing drugs. Such treatment can be prescribed by a neurologist. But what if an elderly person is forgetful to such an extent that he puts his life in danger? Then you need to seek help from a psychiatrist. In addition, relatives should take care of his safety. When leaving home, turn off the electricity and water at the riser. Buy a stove that stops the gas supply as soon as the fire goes out. The lock in the apartment where your mother lives should only be closed from the outside. Plug all electrical outlets and hide matches.
“My parents are offended that I rarely visit them and forget to call. Don't they understand that I have a family and a job?”
Loneliness is the worst companion of old age. Adult children have no time all the time, they have a lot of worries both at home and at work, so it seems to them that all these parental reproaches: “Why didn’t you call?” and “When will you finally come to me?” - just senile whims, you can ignore them. In fact, the situation is very complicated. Lack of communication has a very painful effect on the mental he alth of the elderly. First, resentment and thoughts arise: “No one needs me, everyone abandoned me,” and then it’s not far from depression. It's no secret that many retirees treat loneliness with alcohol. Alcoholism, both male and female, in old age is not such a rare occurrence. Therefore, the first commandment: call your parents. No time to talk, send a text. Secondly, when communicating with parents, try to always keep your promises. They promised to come, but it did not work out - the situation is familiar and quite understandable from our point of view, but for the elderly it is a disaster! A long wait is accompanied by anxiety and even panic (something happened!), And then gives way to resentment, apathy and alienation. It's better not to promise anything, explaining that you have a lot of work. By the way, for most of our old people, work is sacred.
Thirdly, you need to take care not only about the he alth of parents, their proper nutrition, but also about leisure. Try to load your old people with feasible assignments so that they do not get bored at home. Or together come up with some interesting hobby for them, look for a small extra income, advise, in the end, to do charity work. Any activity is better than idleness, active people get sick less, cope with stress more easily, they will not be so dependent on external circumstances and your calls.
“Mother climbs to help me with the housework, but she doesn’t understand anything anymore. I ask her: do not do anything, rest. And she is in tears!”
Elderly people become very vulnerable, just a few tears. This psychological change occurs even with those who had a tough temper in their youth. What can offend old people? First of all, the refusal of their help with the housework. Perhaps the old woman, who used to be an excellent cook, is now unable to even boil potatoes, but it is useless to tell her about it. Old people don't take criticism. This is a consequence of organic changes that destroy the part of the brain that is responsible for criticism. Therefore, it is useless to lecture your mother if she overs alted the soup, it is better to lie that you have already eaten.
“My husband moved my mother-in-law to us from the village, she had a household there, goats, but she coped with everything … But we live on everything ready and still groan, groan that everything hurts.”
It often happens: adult children, out of good intentions, take their grandmother to live with them, believing that she will be better with them, and in a month or two she turns from a smart and completely independent old woman into a complete invalid, unable even to service. Moving is a very difficult test for an elderly person; on a scale of stress, they are second only to the sudden death of a partner. And the need to take care of yourself is often the only incentive for vitality.
Try to arrange the life of your mother-in-law so that she still has some household chores. This will help her adapt to the new place. And, of course, show sympathy - she is really having a hard time right now.
"My father often complains that he smells gas. I called the gasmen, they checked everything, but they did not find any leaks. And dad still stands his ground.”
The elderly often have hallucinations. They may smell gas or chlorine. They complain that the usual food tastes different. Over time, delusional statements may appear that they want to poison him (neighbors, daughter). If the complaints are persistent and cannot be dissuaded, contact a psychiatrist urgently, he will prescribe compulsory treatment for your father. These symptoms should not be ignored and are indicative of a serious mental illness.
"Our grandmother recently went shopping and forgot her way home. We barely found her with the help of the police. Could this happen again?”
Unfortunately yes. Old people often leave home and get lost. They say they are going home, referring to the place where they lived as children. At the same time, they collect their things, knit knots and then go wherever their eyes look. Many relatives were found in other cities. There were cases when an elderly person opened a window and stepped over the window sill, so it is better to keep the windows closed. Usually, when old people walk along a familiar route (to a store, clinic), they do not get lost. But, once in an unfamiliar environment, in another area, or being in the subway during rush hour, even the address is hardly remembered. Many people walk silently around the city for hours, without turning to anyone for help. Be sure to sew clothes tags for your grandmother with the address, her name and surname, and also indicate your contact phone number.
“It has become impossible to communicate with my mother lately. She's withdrawn, doesn't talk for hours, she's always in a bad mood.”
This is how severe depression manifests itself. This disease also requires immediate medical attention. Otherwise, death from nervous and physical exhaustion may occur. It happens that old people lie down and do not get out of bed, like the dead, refuse to eat and drink, then they stop going to the toilet, as a result, toxins accumulate in the body, which leads to self-poisoning.
“Father had a massive heart attack, fortunately he survived! But he can't walk. How do I organize care for him while we're at work?”
Caring for bedridden patients at home is the biggest problem families face. The state does not provide patronage services for free, so caring for a grandfather who has had a stroke, or a grandmother who has broken her hip, places a heavy burden on his family and friends. You will have to hire a nurse or take care of yourself. The services of a nurse or nurse on average in Moscow cost 150 rubles per hour or 1000-1500 rubles per day. For this money, the nurse must monitor the patient's condition, cook and feed him, wash and treat bedsores, change linen, and clean the room. Sometimes it is more profitable to conclude an agreement on round-the-clock patronage with accommodation, it costs up to 16,000 rubles per month.
But care is care, but treating and observing the elderly should still be district doctors of district clinics at the place of residence. They are required to come to their homes, and if necessary, call other specialists to their patients, they also draw up documents for disability, etc. They are required to take tests from a bedridden patient at home, a nurse will come home and give injections, and even members of an expert commission that determine disability group, examine an immobile patient at home.
Now in the whole civilized world such a promising area of medicine as ergotherapy is developing very quickly. It helps the disabled to rehabilitate to new conditions and live life to the fullest extent possible. We don't have ergotherapists, but we do have regional physical culture dispensaries and rehabilitation centers. They are also involved in the rehabilitation of disabled people, including those after heart attacks, but such institutions do not operate in all areas. Rehabilitation is often carried out by specialists of district clinics: neurologists, traumatologists, cardiologists. They teach the patient to perform the most necessary actions: eat, talk, walk. In addition, rehabilitation specialists will teach relatives how to do speech rehabilitation exercises and therapeutic exercises with him.
The editors would like to thank psychiatrist Vladimir Krasnov, the Social Information Agency and the Department of Social Protection of the Population of the Moscow Airport District for their help in preparing the material.