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Caring for our parents

June 15, 2012

With Father’s Day approaching and Mother’s Day just passed, a top county health official offered some tips in caring for the elderly.
“All religions around the globe talk about caring for your parents,” Auglaize County Medical Director Dr. Juan Torres said.
A Christian and Jewish commandment calls for children to honor their father and mother and the Code of the Samurai advises caring for all parents, even those who may not have been so good to their children through the years, he said.
“It can be a many-year journey dedicated to caring for parents and can drain energy, strength and resources,” Torres said this week during a discussion of the Auglaize County Health Board.
The average such caregiver is a 46-year-old female, who because of her position taking care of a parent reduces her income 41 percent and causes a reduction in benefits as well, as she often has had to move from full-time to part-time work.
“I recommend taking a deep breath, don’t take the full load by yourself, have others in your family help you — not just giving instructions on how to care for the parent, but showing up and providing financial assistance,” Torres said.
He said sometimes more information needs to be gathered, too.
Torres recommended knowing the types of medication (whether prescription, over the counter, or herbs) they are taking and why they take them. Compile a list of all treating physicians, dentists and healthcare providers to allow for easier communication. Make sure birthdates and social security numbers are on hand.
“It makes the transition easier,” Torres said.
He said try to have or compile a complete medical history of the person to assist not only the caregiver but doctors.
“Look at dose changes, new medicines and possible interactions,” Torres said.
Also creating a barrier can be HIPPA, which was created to prevent companies from getting personal information, but has made it increasingly difficult for families to get needed information.
Torres recommended getting a power of attorney approved.
In addition to that, he said be aware of changes in health, from the way a parent may be walking or if they are having difficulty standing to dizziness or depression, all of which can be caused by a variety of reasons, but are still important to note.
“If there were things they used to enjoy but aren’t anymore or they have confusion or no appetite, you need to find out why,” Torres said. “You need to be more in tune so their doctors can provide better service to them.”

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