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August 1, 2022

What to do when your kids confront you about your health

What to do when your kids confront you about your health

Here's how to respond and what to do if you think they're right.


You've spent the majority of your life worrying about your children's health and safety, so having the roles reversed can feel strange and unfamiliar. That could be the case if your adult children express concerns about your ability to walk, drive, or remember details. 



How do you react?

Abby Altman, a geriatric psychologist at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women's Hospital, and Dr. Suzanne Salamon, associate chief of gerontology at Harvard-affiliated Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, offer advice and insight.
 
What should you keep in mind?

"These discussions are frequently motivated by concern and love. "Your children want you to live as long as possible in this world," Altman claims. Furthermore, your health and treatment have an impact on the entire family unit. Finally, you are the one who makes the decisions that affect your health. However, your children may have different ideas about how to keep you healthy. It is worthwhile to consider their suggestions. "

What if it appears to be intrusive?

"In my work with families, I encourage parents to consider what they can and cannot control in their interactions with their adult children. You can't turn off your children's concerns and feedback about your health, and it's wonderful that they do. However, you always have the right to express how concerns are communicated to you, as well as the right to handle the situation without their assistance, "Altman emphasizes.

How do the majority of parents react? 

"It covers the entire spectrum," Dr. Salamon says. "You have some patients who are overjoyed that their children want to participate." But some people don't want that; just yesterday, I saw an 88-year-old woman who had left her adult child in the waiting room. She requested that I only speak with her. Unfortunately, those who do not want their children involved are frequently those who require the children's assistance and support. "

If you disagree, what should you say?

"Responses to your adult children should express gratitude for the feedback, such as "thank you for thinking of me." Also, because your adult children may only see snapshots of your daily life, you may be able to share your perspectives on larger issues. You could, for example, point out that one instance of eating fast food or missing an appointment is not typical, "Altman claims. At the end of the day, your adult children probably want to hear that you're doing everything you can to stay as long as possible. If you disagree with their concerns, it is preferable to say that you will consider their concerns rather than dismiss them. Also, showing your children examples of what you are doing for their health, such as trying a heart-healthy diet, may be beneficial and alleviate some of their concerns. "

Do your children's concerns merit a doctor's visit?

If your child expresses a concern, don't dismiss it because you don't agree with it. Take their observations seriously, for example, if they notice that you're out of breath when you walk, that your legs are swollen, or that you can't hear as well as you used to. If you catch a condition early enough, you may be able to treat it. According to Dr. Salamon, So write down your concerns and bring them up at your next doctor's appointment, or call your doctor if you're concerned. Your doctor might tell you it's nothing. "


What if their worries are about their cognitive health? 

" Because we are afraid of losing our independence, these types of concerns can feel more sensitive. However, the following symptoms are not associated with age-related memory loss: frequent bouts of forgetfulness; difficulty communicating or finding words; difficulty keeping track of what happens in a day; not knowing where you are; and difficulty planning, organizing, or handling complex tasks. If those things are making it difficult for you to do your daily tasks, such as taking medications or managing your finances, a doctor's visit is definitely in order, "Altman claims.

How do you allow your children to assist you while maintaining your privacy? 

"Unless your medical team has determined that your ability to make medical decisions is significantly impaired, your doctor should consult with you first before making any health decisions." "If you want your medical team to be able to speak directly to your adult children, you can fill out a release of information form, which specifies who your medical team can communicate with and what information is acceptable to share," Altman claims. "When these release forms are signed, I frequently call family members during a patient's appointment to ensure that nothing is kept from the patient. You can request similar arrangements from all of your doctors. Adult children can also be granted access to your electronic medical record with your permission, as well as send messages about you to your health care providers. "

How much should you let your children help? 

" "Be forthright in asking them to do whatever you require," Dr. Salamon advises. "You may be unaware that you require assistance." However, there are times when you may For example, if you're not taking your medications as prescribed, you can't open pill bottles, or you're not getting refills, it's time to ask your child to set up a pillbox. Don't feel like you're bothering your children. You've been working hard to maintain your independence. You'll be healthier if everything is in order, and your children will most likely be eager to help. "

Ref: Harvard Health
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No Health content on this site, regardless of date, should be used to replace direct medical advice from your doctor or another trained practitioner.
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