Perhaps your Dad’s always been a bit set in his ways. We get it, lots of Dads have a stubborn streak. They’re often fiercely independent, survivors and leaders throughout their lives. For these Dads, aging can be especially tough. Most of us don’t want to admit we need help, and that’s particularly true for these aging Dads. However, that stubbornness can be deadly. Here are three signs to watch for, followed by tips on getting past Dad’s pride.
1. Avoiding the doctor
Dad’s been having pain for a few months. You see it in his pained expressions and the fact that he’s become inactive. But, he keeps saying it’s no big deal and will get better. He tells you “it’s just part of getting old”. Now, you’re noticing his walking has changed. And, you’re really worried he’s going to fall or be unable to get up from the chair or bed one day.
It’s not just your Dad. A Rutgers study found men are less likely to go to the doctor than women. And, they’re less likely to be honest about their symptoms when they do go. Moreover, men with traditional beliefs about masculinity are significantly more likely to ignore medical problems.
Many believe this contributes to men’s shorter life expectancies. Preventative care and early diagnosis can prevent disability and death.
2. Doing household tasks that put him in danger
Does your Dad thrive on being the “man of the house”? He’d gladly scale the roof to fix a tile or climb the ladder to prune his trees. So many elderly female clients tell us their husbands clung to their home and role in it. We hear from many of them who wanted to get help or move, but could only do so after their husband died.
Unfortunately, deadly accidents happen when doing home maintenance. Falls represent the most common cause of unintentional injury and death for people 60+. They account for more than 40% of all trauma-related deaths. In a study of men falling from ladders, older men sustained significantly more traumatic injuries even when falling from lower heights.
In Florida, some additional concerns include accidents during pool maintenance and heat exhaustion doing outdoor chores.
3. Improperly taking medications
Older patients tend to be prescribed multiple medications. They’re more prone to medication errors due to this complexity and other factors. Multiple medications increase susceptibility to side effects too. Going along with point #1, Dad may be less likely to report side effects. He may not ask the doctor questions or bring up concerns. As such, he may simply stop or reduce a medication on his own.
If your aging Dad is confused about taking his medications, he’s unlikely to seek help. You may have attempted to set up a pillbox/medication system or hire medication management but he refuses. Well over 100,000 people die each year from failing to take medications properly.
Solutions: Keeping Your Aging Dad Safe and Healthy
We know it’s not easy to convince an aging parent to get help, especially a stubborn Dad. We’ve had a lot of experience in this area, so check out our tips.
Here’s a few ideas to help with these specific concerns:
- Make sure Dad knows all about Medicare’s preventive benefits. Some Dads may be willing to see the doctor when they know it’s “free”. Also, help Dad find a doctor he likes. Attend a first visit with him so you can sense if it’s not a fit. Otherwise Dad may stop going without explaining why.
- Do the legwork and find the right people for home maintenance needs. Explain why these tasks need to be done by someone else. And, set firm limits with Dad. Also, if you can get a caregiver in to help with tasks Dad wants, he/she can be your eyes and ears. They can also help suggest Dad not do certain tasks.
- First, make sure Dad has a regular medication review to cut out unnecessary medications. Setting up a pillbox is a start. Monitor how he’s doing with it. Electronic options and apps can help alert Dad and give you a important data. For medication management services, it may help if they’re “prescribed” by the doctor.
Consider getting an evaluation from a care manager. First, it is a non-biased way to assess how your aging Dad is really doing. Second, the care manager can offer solutions amenable to everyone. Third, they can be your ally in convincing Dad. And, best of all, clients end up feeling highly empowered in this process rather than reluctantly agreeing.