At 80 years old, my grandmother decided it was time to stop driving. Lucky for the family that it didn’t take much encouragement for her to give up the keys to the car after she backed into her neighbor’s fence. She admitted that she was no longer as focused as she should be and there were fears about unpredictable drivers out on the road. The family was willing to get her to doctors’ appointments, to the grocery, and, of course, all family functions. Many of her friends are not so lucky and are either still driving or are depending on taxi service or public transportation to get around.
As we get older, our driving patterns change due to retirement, changing schedules, and new activities that affect when and where we drive. Older adults drive safely because they have years of experience behind the wheel and tend to be more cautious by nature. Driving is a complicated task and should be taken seriously by all, especially older adults because if they are involved in an accident they are often hurt more seriously than younger drivers. Driving also requires people to see and hear clearly; as a result older drivers are more likely than younger ones to have trouble in certain situations, including making left turns, changing lanes, and navigating through intersections.
It is common with age that you begin noticing changes in your vision, hearing and physical abilities. Here are some of the common mistakes made by older drivers:
- Failing to yield the right of way
- Failing to stay in their lane
- Misjudging the time or distance needed to turn in front of traffic
- Failing to stop completely at a stop sign
- Speeding or driving too slow
Getting older does not necessarily mean a person has to give up their keys and their driving days have to come to an end. But it is important to plan ahead and take steps to ensure the safety of your loved ones on the road. NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) offers free material to help you learn more about how to recognize and discuss changes in your older loved one’s driving. For your free copy of materials offered by NHTSA visit their site at www.nhtsa.gov.
As parents we strive to maintain control of our affairs so our adult children don’t have to worry themselves about us. While we can’t always predict the changes that come along with aging, we do know that the most common changes are related to health, living arrangements, the need for assistance, finances, and end-of-life issues. I’ve learned from experience that talking about important life decisions and planning ahead helps families better cope with the changes that come with our parents as they age. By talking through these situations, you can avoid crisis decision-making and prevent emotional and difficult situations.
Though the majority of older adults say they are perfectly comfortable discussing life changes with their family, in most cases the discussions never happen. So, how and where do you start? Begin by creating a list of “what if’s.” Some questions to get the discussion started might include:
- What if I had a health condition where I could no longer live alone? Where would I want to live? Would I live in my home with medical assistance, with my family or assisted living?
- What if I developed significant memory loss? Who would I want in charge of my finances? Help me make financial or medical decisions?
- Who would take me to appointments? Grocery for me? Make sure I’m bathed and my medicines are taken as directed?
Take advantage of natural opportunities to talk about these issues. For example, if someone you know is going through an aging situation, bring it up and encourage conversation about how your family would handle similar circumstances. Make time or an appointment to talk about these issues, and meeting in person is the best when discussing life’s decisions that include living arrangements, long-term care, driving status and financial planning. End-of-life issues are never at the top of anyone’s list, but are also very important and should be included in conversations about your future as you age.
It’s important to have a plan before health problems arise. Conversations may not always be easy, but they are vitally important and can help a person maintain control at a time in their lives when they may not be able to speak for themselves. Most people want to have these conversations, they just don’t know where to begin. So don’t wait — plan a meeting today with your family so all questions are handled before any issues arise.
Methodist ElderCare’s staff is available to assist you and your loved one with questions and concerns about planning for the future as you age. Call Methodist ElderCare Services at 614-396-4990 today to arrange an appointment to visit one of our locations and learn how we can help you and your family put a life plan in motion.
When an older person is beginning to struggle to live independently, families have to work on getting their loved one to agree it’s time to have the “tough conversation,” whether it is about moving to assisted living or having in-home health care provided. According to the Assisted Living Federation of America, men have traditionally been an afterthought in the world of senior living.
With the aging of the boomer generation, men now make up 26% of those residing in retirement communities. When the time came for a friend of mine to have the “talk” with her dad, she said the hardest part was assuring him that he wouldn’t be the only male resident. Another concern was whether or not there would be activities for men that might interest him. Last, but not least, a primary concern was how much independence he would have in assistant living. It is a fact that men tend to value freedom more than women, making these choices such a difficult one for males.
The aging process is difficult for both men and women, but research has shown that men have a harder time adjusting to life changes that accompany the aging process. Throughout their lives, men are conditioned to be strong, controlling and independent. Men can be devastated by the losses associated with aging and may feel they now have nothing to offer to society and may find it very difficult to depend on others.
When the time comes to have the “talk,” be prepared for the tough questions, such as, “What will I do all day?” and “Are there guys my age living there?” Be sure to include your loved one when visiting senior communities, and allow them to ask questions and help make choices when choosing where they will live out the rest of their lives. Retirement communities are aware of the influx of men needing services and are adding more and more activities geared toward men.
Schedule an appointment today at one of Methodist ElderCare’s retirement communities by calling 614-396-4990 or visit www.methodisteldercare.org. Our communities offer amenities for all of your needs.
Hot temperatures can be a danger for anyone. For older adults, heat stroke and heat exhaustion are a real problem, making a little extra TLC important during time outdoors when it is hot. There are several reasons for elderly heat vulnerability. As we age, the ability to notice changes in our body temperatures decreases. Many older adults have underlying health conditions, and along with the medications taken for those conditions, their bodies are less able to adapt to heat. A few simple precautions are all that is needed to keep your loved one safe from summer’s heat.
Hear are some guidelines for keeping safe in hot weather:
- Drink plenty of liquids. Dehydration is the root of many heat-related health problems. Drink plenty of water or juice, even if you don’t feel thirsty. Avoiding alcohol and caffeinated drinks is a smart choice, as they can actually contribute to dehydration.
- Wear appropriate clothing. When it is hot, wear light colored, lightweight, loose-fitting clothing and a wide-brimmed hat.
- Stay indoors during mid-day hours. During periods of extreme heat, the best time to run errands or be outdoors is before 10am or after 6pm, when the temperature tends to be cooler.
- Take it easy. Avoid exercise and strenuous activity, particularly outdoors when it is very hot.
- Know the warning signs of heat-related illness. Dizziness, nausea, headache, rapid heartbeat, chest pain, fainting and breathing problems are all warning signs that help should be sought.
Dehydration can easily be treated by replacing fluids, but should not be taken lightly by the elderly. Lack of fluids deprives the body of vital nourishment and its ability to cleanse itself. Water plays a vital role in regulating the body’s normal temperature. A good formula for how much water is needed every day is to take one-third of the person’s body weight in pounds and drink the equivalent number of ounces of water daily. For example, a 150-pound woman would need 50 ounces of water daily, or about 6 eight ounce glasses of water. Remember, severe dehydration requires medical attention; if you see any signs or even just suspect it, call your doctor.