Sunday, July 13, 2008

Respecting the elderly

We are all taught to respect the elderly and we all do it, but are we respecting their wishes?

A 70-year-old lady sits sheepishly near me in my consulting room. Opposite to us on the other side of the table sits her son. He scolds her for her high blood sugar and cholesterol. He says that his mother does not like an old, sick woman. She eats everything disregard her condition. Son also complains that she does hard house hold work and goes out to the fields to supervise the agriculture work. All these were unnecessary as there are others to do it. The lady has a guilty smile, but denies most of the accusations of her son.

This happens very often in my clinic. The younger generation wants the elderly to live a schedurled life.They will be happy if they just sit and watch TV all the day and eat as bland and tasteless diet as possible avoiding everything. They believe that elderly should behave themselves [as old and sick]. By leading such a life, the children feel that their parents can live long and happy. As they are [most often] footing the bills for their health care, children expects obedience from their parents.

After hearing from both sides, I usually take a middle path. I advice the children that even though their parents are old and have some health problems, don't make them feel they are sick by your reprimands [like don't do this, don't do that ]. I will tell that some restrictions in food and activities are needed, but do not put them in 'house arrest'. Try to understand what they like to do and allow it in such a way that there is no harm to their health.

I tell the elderly patient not to indulge too much in unhealthy food. I tell them to be active but protect themselves from extremes of weather.

Usually as they go out of my room, the elderly have a broader smile.

1 comment:

CALpumper said...

Well done Doc!!!

My grandmother, mother's side, was Type 2 for over 30 years and in denial for every single one. Always asked me how I could do those darn blood tests. Never wanted to be told what to eat, hated the Doctor visits and tests, VERY independent. I SO got that from her. ;-)

She lived alone for Years. And when she finally had the "last fall" it was time for a move. A nurse visiting her periodically was a no go. An adult day care center was an even bigger no go. She ended up staying with my mother for awhile. Then she ended up in a nursing facility. By then she had severe dementia, she was partially blind, only wanted cookies and milk, didn't acknowledge anyone (or recognize, hard to tell, she was bitter like I had never seen) and constantly asked for her glasses which did her no good.

It was so sad. Broke my mom's heart. Broke mine.

It was a tough family decision to take her "freedom" away. For years she did her thing, on her own. Took the bus EVERYWHERE. Never got her license. Made friends. Always loved to treat the grandkids to a meal at Burger King. Loved to give them dollar bills too.

But once she started falling, in an upstairs apartment, alone, it was time to take action.

It is never an easy decision for any family member, young or old, healthy or ill. But age happens. We grow older. Families have to make decisions. Life can be tough.

And for a Doc, middle ground is the only way. ;-) Good work!