Your elderly parents’ best kept secrets:
Anything that your parents think would make them look weaker can be a secret. It could be about their health problems, money issues or maybe an accident or injury. Some common problems that our parents face and would bother us are:
1. Health Problems - When parents experience discomforts such as pain, stomach issues, dizziness or weakness, they try to handle it by themselves. They don’t want to bother you, thinking of these as minor issues. Often, they also feel that telling you will subject them to a visit to a doctor, and subsequently tests and ‘over-care’ from your side. They see this as a burden and loss of their independence.
2. Accidents - A fall in the bathroom, a twisted ankle, or a hard blow to the head they would hide it all thinking that it is not necessary to bother you these 'small issues'. Trust me unless there is something really serious enough to take them to the hospital, you will never find out about it.
3. Money trouble - Parents are most secretive about their money problems. If possible, they would still like to give you more money from whatever little they have.
That's just the way they are. They would not want your help but are always willing to help you. Hey, that doesn't mean that you give up digging for their problems. You can always be a lie detector and know the telltale signals.
The telltale signs
It's not that difficult to understand if your parents are hiding something from you or if they need additional care or medical attention. Here are some signals to lookout for:
1. Memory loss - Are your parents showing serious concerns such as forgetting common words while talking or not remembering a route they always follow?
2. Taking care of themselves- Are your parents able to keep up daily routine and hygiene practices? This includes their own body and their house.
3. Weight loss - Have your parents shown sudden weight loss?
4. Their mood - Have your parents been looking depressed or uneasy lately? Have they been going out to meet friends, or have they been home all the time?
5. Mobility - Are your parents still able to move around easily and independently? Are they feeling weak or tired all the time?
If your parents are having any of the above signs, they certainly need your help even if they do not speak about it.
Want to help?
Asking money or help from children makes our parents uncomfortable. It takes away the little self-respect that they want to preserve. Then, how do you help them?
The best way to help your parents is to address their problems in a way they feel comfortable and strong. What they want is to be as independent as they’ve made you. And it’s in your hands to make it happen! Some really helpful ways to do just that are:
1. Talk instead of just communicating - Keep the lines of communication open at all times. Functional communication makes parents unwanted, unloved and burdensome. Instead, talk to them. Tell them about your day, discuss things that matter to you, ask for their advice like you used to do many years ago. When they find it easy to talk to you, they will find it easy to share their troubles with you without feeling shy or small about them.
2. Take care of their medical expenses by buying a health insurance- This might seem like a forced plug to you, but it really isn't. Insurance is the least understood subject matter in the country, especially health insurance. Make sure your parents have their own health insurance policy, and they don't depend on your employer's health insurance policy alone. The safety net of the policy will help them be more open about their problems and encourage them to seek medical advice at the right time. Make sure you let them know that you've got them a policy and guide them as to how it works. Once they know that their illness/injury is not going to cost you your hard-earned money, they'll be more open to telling you about them.
Old age strips people of their beauty, health and dignity. Their bodies lose their attractive shape. They tend to fall sick more often than others. Adding to the misery, there would be actions and reactions from people around reminding them of their weaknesses. All of that takes up an emotional toll too. You should look for a good policy that covers all medical emergencies and also provides for cashless claims that does not pinch your pocket either.
It is said that you can never repay your parents for what they’ve done for you. But, taking good care of them and making them self-dependent is a way of letting them know that you are trying.