Well, I'm a little worried about my parents. Any advice?


#1

My mom and dad are getting older now and I’m starting to get worried about them. My mom is in her late 50’s and my dad is early 60’s. Which these days - is not really that old at all. But here’s the thing: My mother has not had a physical since 1988. My dad last went in 1995. Which means they’ve never had any cholesterol or blood pressure tests, no prostate exam, no mammograms, nothing - in years. They “feel fine” :rolleyes: even though they’re both overweight and my mom has these “spells” where she feels faint and gets shaky and needs to eat some sugar or she gets very dizzy and close to passing out. Oh, by the way, her mother was a diabetic. :eek:

Tonight we were over for dinner and when my sister and I left we noticed for the second time this month that my mom had left the burners on on the stove. What if we weren’t there and she just left it on and went to bed? My dad usually checks, but not always.

I just didn’t think I’d have to deal with this stuff with my parents for years, I’m only 22, I just moved out 2 years ago, for heaven’s sake. I’m so worried about their health. My dad’s foot aches for no apparent reason and his hearing is going and his head and hands shake a little every now and then…

It’s hard to watch your parents get old and realize that they’re not invincible like you always thought they were…

Anyway…they both REFUSE to go to the doctor for a check up. My sister and I are at out wits end…we don’t know what else to do. We can’t FORCE them to go, after all…anyone have any advice or ideas of how to reason with them? Everytime we bring it up they brush us off.

I’m sorry this is so long…I’ve gotta talk about this somewhere…thanks all. :o


#2

You are right to be worried. Your parents are probably in denial–they don’t want to know and they convince themselves that they would know if something were wrong. Except that often when someone has a medical disorder, it has occurred gradually enough that they attribute the symptoms to getting older or convince themselves that they have always felt that way (for example, fatigued or forgetful or lacking energy). The real tragedy is that some disorders are so treatable when caught early and diagnosed but irreversible damage can be done if diagnosis and treatment are delayed.

Try to channel your energies into getting them to a doctor. Find out what their medical insurance is and call the insurance company and get names of family practice doctors in your area who accept their insurance. Perhaps even make an appointment for them for an “annual physical”. Maybe they would actually be relieved to have you guide them along.


#3

It is the hardest thing, but you now have an adult-adult relationship with your parents. You want to take care of them, they want to take care of you, and too often neither wants to admit to neglect of self.

There is no better time in your life for “do unto others.” Encourage them to see a doctor, let them know that their conditions are probably treatable… all the things you would take from them as a matter of course. But according to a class I took concerning dealing with dementia and memory loss, always give them the greatest amount of autonomy and self-determination that their condition warrants.

They are still adults, and even though you love them very much, they have to be allowed to make their own decisions. Just as they, your parents, had the very hard job of letting you go and letting you make your own choices, good and bad, you also have the delicate job of letting them know you are always there while letting them continue to run their own affairs for the longest time possible. With children as with parents, taking over carries its own hazards. Always be there for them, but don’t ever punish yourself for letting them be grown-ups. As much as you may want to, you can’t protect them from every danger. No one gets that kind of control in this life, at least not rightfully. Try very hard to remember that.

Having said that… just like your mom and dad, you are perfectly within your rights a certain amount of gentle, loving nagging. I have had luck with the line, “C’mon, Mom, if I had these symptoms, you have me off to a doctor in a New York minute. And don’t give me any of this ‘I’m just getting old’ garbage. I’m not buying it, and you don’t believe it, either, do you? Go see your doctor, and if you get a clean bill of health, I’ll get off your back… but not before!”

You are also within your rights to squeal to their primary care providers. Just because they haven’t been to see them in awhile doesn’t mean they don’t have them. Federal privacy rules only go one way… doctors can’t tell you anything without a patient’s consent, but other people are allowed to rat out patients to their doctors to their heart’s content. My mom was famous for only wanting to “bother” her doctor with a few of her “worst symptoms.” He got to guess the rest. If you do get your parents to make an appointments for check-ups, be sure that their doctors have a full run-down of all the stuff your parents might “forget to mention.”

Good luck, and remember: you aren’t in charge of running their lives any more than they are in charge of running yours. Do the best you can, then give yourself permission to leave the rest up to God.


#4

Wow. I’m so grateful to both of you, you’ve really given me a lot to think about. I’m sitting here getting a little teary because, I don’t know, I’m afraid of what will happen to them someday, as if like a little kid I don’t know…

Anyway, thanks for the tip with the doctor BLB. My sister is a MOA and works in the main hospital so I’m sure she’d be able to have a talk with whoever my mom goes to see. (she doesn’t have a doctor right now)she “hates doctors” because the last time she went in for a bad cold a couple years ago that was dragging on, when the doctor heard she hadn’t had a physical since 1988 he insisted on doing one then and she refused. He then, as I would think a good doctor should, tried to convince her to at least go get a mammogram, which really ticked her off :rolleyes: I think we have more hope with her going than my dad though. He’s like a brick wall when it comes to this stuff…anyway, didn’t mean to make this longer, just sharing.

I guess what it all comes down to though, is that they are adults and I can’t make them do anything. But it’s not going to stop me from mentioning it frequently :smiley:

Thanks again…anyone else has any thoughts, I’m all ears.


#5

Celia, do your parents happen to know any health care professionals on a friends-only basis? For instance, our parish is chock full of doctors, lawyers, etc and there are plenty of people within the parish who also go to them for personal needs–as well as seeing them socially. Granted, for some people it’s easier to consult a stranger rather than someone who knows them personally. :slight_smile: I wonder if it would be easier to persuade one or both of your parents to go to the doctor if you could say, “Oh come on Mom, it’s just Patty the lector whom you’ll see next week at that Christmas Party. You know she’ll be good to you and really listen to what you do or don’t want!”

This really worked for one of my husband’s grandmothers, but for some I know it would never work–they don’t want anyone around them knowing anything ‘personal’ when it comes to health issues, which is understandable.

Just an idea :slight_smile:


#6

well, I am in my late 50’s and if my kids are worried they aren’t telling us. Their dad has not been to a doctor in 20 years, because the last time he went he ended up in surgery, so he decided to eat right -vegtarian- and exercise. His client gives health screenings as part of their wellness program so they ran his tests, his cholesterol is under 250 (excellent in a family where the norm is over 500, and his was 520 when he had his gall bladder out), BP is normal, all other tests great. What he will die of is a blow to the head by a golf ball, or skin cancer because he golfs everyday down here.

If your mom is overweight, has dizzy spells which are eased by food, and is getting forgetful, also if she is having vision problems she should be tested for diabetes because silent complications are well in progress can result in full-blown kidney disease, blindness or an ulcerated leg that does not heal and other debilitating problems.

unfortunately, they are adults, and you can’t do much about it, except to express your concern and the pain it causes you when they neglect their health. My mom would not listen to us, and I probably would not listen to my kids. Is there anyone else who they do respect, whom you could ask to talk to them? My mom listened to my sister-in-law who said the same things her daughters did, but who were ignored. My husband ignored my advice, but listened to a radio doctor who told him the same thing.

does their parish or a nearby parish have a parish nurse they would consent to see? they usually do BP and cholesterol tests. as we get older we get terrified of doctors and hospitals because we start to see what happens to our friends. The go to the doctor for the flu, he quite correctly insists on a physical, and they end up going through a bypass or cancer surgery, complications set in, therapy tries to remedy the results of 20 years of physical neglect, and it is a downward spiral ending in a nursing home (that is the scenario that plays out in our minds). Also, most of us are taking care of our own parents and are in denial that we could be going the same way for the same reasons–bad diet, bad habits, no exercise.

one thing that did work with FIL (but only when he was 90) was to insist on driving him to his drivers license renewal and telling the clerk he could not see and was having dizzy spells. They refused to renew his license until he brought in a doctor’s letter. This finally got him into a doctor, and he was off the road (don’t know how many people in NW Ohio are still alive because of this, but be grateful). Of course the doctor found colon cancer, of which he later died, and he blamed us for that.


#7

[quote=Princess_Abby]Celia, do your parents happen to know any health care professionals on a friends-only basis? For instance, our parish is chock full of doctors, lawyers, etc and there are plenty of people within the parish who also go to them for personal needs–as well as seeing them socially. Granted, for some people it’s easier to consult a stranger rather than someone who knows them personally. :slight_smile: I wonder if it would be easier to persuade one or both of your parents to go to the doctor if you could say, “Oh come on Mom, it’s just Patty the lector whom you’ll see next week at that Christmas Party. You know she’ll be good to you and really listen to what you do or don’t want!”

This really worked for one of my husband’s grandmothers, but for some I know it would never work–they don’t want anyone around them knowing anything ‘personal’ when it comes to health issues, which is understandable.

Just an idea :slight_smile:
[/quote]

Hi Abby, my mom is Lutheran (my dad stopped going to church ages ago) and I don’t really know anyone from her church except the pastor. :o It’s a great idea though, maybe I’ll see if anyone she works with is in the medical field. My sister’s best friend is a nurse, and she hesitated a little last night when we were like, “why don’t you go to her office? at least you know someone there” so we might have success with that avenue. Thanks! :slight_smile:


#8

[quote=puzzleannie]well, I am in my late 50’s and if my kids are worried they aren’t telling us. Their dad has not been to a doctor in 20 years, because the last time he went he ended up in surgery, so he decided to eat right -vegtarian- and exercise. His client gives health screenings as part of their wellness program so they ran his tests, his cholesterol is under 250 (excellent in a family where the norm is over 500, and his was 520 when he had his gall bladder out), BP is normal, all other tests great. What he will die of is a blow to the head by a golf ball, or skin cancer because he golfs everyday down here.

If your mom is overweight, has dizzy spells which are eased by food, and is getting forgetful, also if she is having vision problems she should be tested for diabetes because silent complications are well in progress can result in full-blown kidney disease, blindness or an ulcerated leg that does not heal and other debilitating problems.

unfortunately, they are adults, and you can’t do much about it, except to express your concern and the pain it causes you when they neglect their health. My mom would not listen to us, and I probably would not listen to my kids. Is there anyone else who they do respect, whom you could ask to talk to them? My mom listened to my sister-in-law who said the same things her daughters did, but who were ignored. My husband ignored my advice, but listened to a radio doctor who told him the same thing.

does their parish or a nearby parish have a parish nurse they would consent to see? they usually do BP and cholesterol tests. as we get older we get terrified of doctors and hospitals because we start to see what happens to our friends. The go to the doctor for the flu, he quite correctly insists on a physical, and they end up going through a bypass or cancer surgery, complications set in, therapy tries to remedy the results of 20 years of physical neglect, and it is a downward spiral ending in a nursing home (that is the scenario that plays out in our minds). Also, most of us are taking care of our own parents and are in denial that we could be going the same way for the same reasons–bad diet, bad habits, no exercise.

one thing that did work with FIL (but only when he was 90) was to insist on driving him to his drivers license renewal and telling the clerk he could not see and was having dizzy spells. They refused to renew his license until he brought in a doctor’s letter. This finally got him into a doctor, and he was off the road (don’t know how many people in NW Ohio are still alive because of this, but be grateful). Of course the doctor found colon cancer, of which he later died, and he blamed us for that.
[/quote]

puzzleannie, see that’s the thing, they aren’t that old. But they do need to be taking care of themselves now to prevent worse things from happening in the coming years.

I understand what you’re saying about the downward spiral. My mom watched both her sisters die from lung cancer in their 50’s. Of course, they were both heavy smokers for years and my mom quit back in the 70’s. But both of their diseases were caught in routine physicals. I think she may be afraid of the same thing happening to her - ignorance is bliss.

Well, a local hospital sets up a blood pressure screening thing in the mall once a month I found out. Maybe I can strong arm them there, and get them to speak with a nurse or something while they’re there…:hmmm:


#9

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