The aging process changes the human body. In addition to changes in the five senses -- vision, hearing, taste, smell, and touch --flexibility, strength, dexterity, grasping, and mobility may also be expected to change. Genetics will dictate our proneness to certain kinds of changes such as memory losses. Late onset illnesses, diseases, and traumas may also impact the body, mind, and spirit.
An individual 90 years of age may have the body of a 75 year old because of keeping in shape over the years. Through strength training, stretching, and aerobic exercises the body can reduce the effects of the aging process on daily life. Even accidents and chronic diseases are handled with greater ease because of appropriate diets and exercise. Some individuals, however, may have had stresses in their lives that have led to impairments and limitations in functioning. Here are some ways to be helpful.
Helping with Doctor's Visits
Some communities have transportation available for doctors visits. If these are not available, the provision of transportation for an older adult who no longer drives is important.
When an older adult has a hearing, visual, or memory issue, assisting with doctor visits can aid communication and getting a more accurate diagnosis. Prior to the visit discuss reasons for the doctor's visit. Help clarify the patient's symptoms, pain levels, and location of pains when the patient is unable to do this for herself. While at the doctor's office, take notes on what is done and what is said. Ask for copies of lab tests and doctor's reports to keep on file and have ready if visits to specialists are required. Clarify recommendations before leaving the doctor's office and check that the patient understands. If prescription was given, go with the patient to have it filled using the generic form (cheaper) when available. Assist with understanding of how to use the prescribed medicines.
Helping with Hospital Treatments
Prepare patient and yourself for the hospital
At the Hospital
Helping with Death and Dying Issues
Stages of dying (espoused originally by Kubler-Ross in the book On Death and Dying) include denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance of the reality of death as a part of life itself. According to David Kessler, M.D., The Needs of the Dying, are to be treated as a living human being, to remain hopeful, and to die in peace and dignity. Read these books in preparation.
The prognosis of no other treatments available and death is imminent is not easy to accept, nor should one, without getting a second opinion from another specialist for this condition. If the evidence they provide is convincing, then the decision has to be made about where to spend one's final days: home, long term care facility, or hospital. Assistance can be offered as follows:
Choice of Hospital/Assisted Living/Nursing Home
Choice of returning home
Get documents in order