How to Communicate With Your Elderly Loved One About Their Health


It’s a sad fact that as we age, our bodies change. It is true for your elderly loved one as well. As their health begins to fade, they are unable to do things they have easily done before. And they feel this change deeply. And because they are worried that their family members may think of them as a burden, they would act as if nothing is wrong, which is very tricky since it can lead to more problems along the way.

As someone who looks after the welfare of your senior loved ones, it is important to take the initiative to communicate with them. However, doing that is never easy, knowing that seniors will often be argumentative or defensive when it comes to their health. Therefore, it is important to understand your seniors’ health before you discuss anything with them.

You may want to discuss some things with your older family member like a regular check-up, treatment options that the doctor suggests, and diet changes. Also, you need to discuss home modifications to improve their safety at home or whether it’s time to consider personal care, home care, or companionship support. You should approach this topic either in a calm manner or by showing concern for their well-being. But how are you going to do it?

This article will discover the best ways to communicate with your senior loved ones about their health.

8 Ways to Communicate With Your Elderly Loved One About Their Health

  1. Listen to Your Senior Loved One’s Concerns

When you listen and understand what your loved one is saying, you create a more fertile ground for conversation. Your senior loved one is more open to considering what you have to tell if you let your loved one speak his concerns freely without judgment. In addition, it could well be that your loved one is ambivalent and needs his time to think things thoroughly. Don’t rush to put words in their mouth. You might need to paraphrase what your loved one said to show that you understood them.

  1. Pick the Right Environment

There are several things to consider when picking the right environment. If your loved one is agitated, choose a quiet place for communication. It could be the dining table, living room, or bedroom. Another option is to choose a comfortable chair at the hospital or in their nursing homeroom. You could also schedule a visit for later in the afternoon when your loved one may be more likely to have some energy and interest in talking about their health with you.

  1. Ask a Thoughtful Question Instead of Just Giving an Advice

When you are trying to communicate with your elderly loved one about their health, the best thing you can do is ask a thoughtful and well-researched question. It will help you understand your loved ones and concerns much better. Ask them what makes them feel that way and why they feel that way. If you think your aging loved ones need to hear a hard truth like telling him, it might be time to give up the car. It could go a lot better to have a third party begin the discussion, like a physician and a family.

  1. Speak Clearly to Make Sure That You are Well Understood

You must speak clearly during the health discussion. You can either repeat what your loved ones said or paraphrase their concerns. Since they are not looking at you, they may not understand you properly. So, repeating what your loved one said would ensure that your loved ones are well understood. One thing to remember is to stick with speaking using more of an informal tone of voice.

  1. Include Other Family Members in the Discussion

Include other family members, like your siblings, in the discussion. But before you include your aging loved ones into that discussion, bring all the issues and concerns to the table and ask them what they think should be done. It will help you have a more fruitful discussion with your elderly family member. A unified consensus among family members regarding these transitions for aging loved ones is a more supportive environment than a divided family.

  1. Accept Differences of Opinions

Not all families are going to agree on what you think should be done. It means that the discussion is going to be difficult. It is okay if other family members have other ideas on how to proceed. But what you should try to do is find a middle ground agreement among the family members. If there are disagreements, don’t push your loved ones to make a decision they are uncomfortable with.

  1. Let Your Loved One be Part of the Decision-Making Process

If you want your loved one’s cooperation and keep them as active as possible, it is important that they feel like they are a part of the decision-making process. You should allow your family members to weigh in by asking their opinion and giving them all the information they need to make the right decisions. If your loved one agrees with what you plan to do, give them all the reasons for why you think it is necessary. It could be very helpful for you both if you can involve your loved ones in planning their future.

  1. Keep Notes from Your Important Discussions

You may want to take some notes and record your discussions during your discussions with your aging loved one. It will help you pick up on any key concerns you need to address later on. Also, there might be memories were shared that you may want to use later.

When situations come up in future episodes of your elderly loved one’s health, bring them up again and ask them if they remember it or if it happened before. It could help if you keep records of important conversations and events in the past regarding their health.

  1. Offer Your Loved One Choices Whenever Possible

Whether it be house cleaning, grocery shopping, or taking a walk at the park, it would be a good idea to let your loved one choose what to do. If they feel like going out to take a short walk or have a bite to eat, allow them. Be sure that the things you want them to do are things they can still safely do. If you have a senior loved one who is confined to their home and cannot leave, consider creating an environment for them that is as comfortable as possible.

  1. Pick Your Battles

Discussing every single issue at once can be embarrassing for an aging parent or loved one. Pick the issues that are the most important, let him know you are aware of the other issues, and then ask if he wants to talk about them later. For example, if your aging relative feels that he is not getting any exercise by walking to the store, ask how his doctor has suggested he should do more exercise. Perhaps there is a way for you to be his walking buddy during the next week or two.

There are a variety of effective ways you can communicate with your aging loved one. It is important that you first understand how their confusion and unclear thinking may affect their health. There are steps you can take to make the interaction more productive and beneficial for both of you. These tips will help you have a more fulfilling conversation with your loved ones regarding their health and help them feel that they have been heard.

Author Bio

I’m Andrea Gibbs, Born, raised, and still living in New York. I’m a work-at-home mom with a background in business development, strategy, and social media marketing. I’m a blog contributor at Serenity Senior care to motivate other parents about how they can enhance their elderly loved ones quality of life.












By |2023-09-12T15:33:30-05:00September 25th, 2023|Dr. Mauk's Boomer Blog, News Posts|Comments Off on How to Communicate With Your Elderly Loved One About Their Health

Guest Blog: Common Skin Conditions Affecting the Elderly

No matter how well we take care of ourselves, advancing age eventually takes its toll – especially on our skin. Over time, the various components that make up our bodies gradually become less able to resist the onset of decay. The epidermis, which is the body’s largest organ, is no exception. As we age, it dries out, grows thinner, and becomes more vulnerable to disease. These naturally-occurring difficulties are compounded when an elderly patient is confined to a long-term care facility.

In some cases, a skin problem may indicate an underlying condition that has gone undetected. Skin conditions can also arise from problems in positioning for patients who are confined to a bed or a wheelchair for an extended period. Once the wound has been healed, the caregiver should make sure that its cause is determined and addressed, and nothing else is being overlooked.

While there are many possible skin disorders that can affect the epidermis of an elderly patient, not all of them will require treatment. Some do, however, and the following are a few of the more common conditions and their possible treatments.

Allergic Reactions

It has been estimated that approximately 5-10% of people 65 or older suffer from an allergic disease. In addition to those who suffer from allergies throughout their lives, some individuals only develop allergies once they reach an advanced age. Underlying medical conditions, memory issues, the use of several medications simultaneously, and overall poor health, can also contribute to the late appearance of an allergy problem in an elderly patient.

Prescription medications are often the culprit when a geriatric patient develops a systemic allergic reaction. Because of this, anyone who does have allergies should be asked about any recent new medications he or she may have begun taking. However, there are other potential causes, including exposure to detergents or mites. Allergic reactions can present in a wide array of symptoms, making it difficult to sometimes narrow down a specific cause.

Allergic reactions should always be treated with topical steroids for one to two weeks. The caregiver should also make sure that the cause of the reaction has been addressed.

Fungal Infections

The most common fungal infection, regardless of a patient’s age, is candidiasis, which is a yeast infection that tends to appear on occluded regions of the epidermis, such as in the folds of the skin or under dressings. It’s most dangerous to older patients and most transmittable to patients who are confined to bed or a wheelchair. In geriatric patients, candidiasis presents with chills, fever, pustular skin lesions, and in some cases, symptoms indicating sepsis.

Fortunately, candidiasis can be prevented by applying miconazole powder to at-risk patches of skin. When it does appear, it should be treated by applying clotrimazole or nystatin cream to the affected areas. If it becomes a recurring problem for patients, bowel eradication using nystatin pastilles should be considered. The provider should also be sure to check the patient for signs of retinal lesions, as many elderly patients suffer from cataracts.

Another common fungal problem is seborrheic dermatitis, which is caused by infection from a different type of yeast, malassezia furfur. It presents as red and scaly patches of skin typically found in areas where hair is present; particularly the head, neck, and chest. It can be treated with ketoconazole (nizoral) 2% shampoo or selenium sulfide 2.5% (Selsun Blue).

Staph and Strep infections

Staph and strep infections are also among the most common problems health professionals will face in patients at a long-term care facility. Studies have estimated that, at any given time, 30-40% of long-term care residents are experiencing a fungal infection.

A staph infection typically results when bacteria enter the epidermis through a sore or a cut (including in areas where a patient may be attached to a catheter or other medical device). The infection presents painfully as a red, swollen patch on the skin. This may be accompanied by pus drainage, a skin abscess, warmth in the area, and a fever as well. In more severe cases, patients may even experience shortness of breath, chills, chest pain, fatigue, muscle aches, headaches, and rashes.

When a geriatric patient is suffering from a staph or strep infection, it should first be treated with a topical antibiotic such as mupirocin (bactroban). If this does not cure the infection and it enters the surrounding tissue, a tissue culture should then be taken to determine what organism is causing the problem. Depending on the results, a systemic antibiotic – usually augmentin, bactrim, ciprofloxacin, or tetracycline – should be given to the patient.

By |2023-07-31T12:47:31-05:00August 22nd, 2023|Dr. Mauk's Boomer Blog, News Posts|Comments Off on Guest Blog: Common Skin Conditions Affecting the Elderly

Guest Blog: Fraud, Scams, and Other Challenges Elders Face

Elder fraud is an enormous problem that involves massive financial loss and elder abuse. The misappropriation of finances and financial control is known as elder financial abuse or financial exploitation. Elders report losing approximately $1.17 billion each year, but the AARP estimates a more accurate number is probably closer to $40 billion.

Scams and Challenges Faced by Seniors

Elders face losing their independence, neglect and abuse, diminished physical ability, and age discrimination. Even healthy elderly individuals may fall prey to schemes at the hands of criminals or family.

Elderly individuals who require daily assistance may suffer abuse and neglect from caregivers and family members. Being left dirty and unbathed is one of the many signs of neglect that point to elderly abuse. Be on the alert for fraud and abuse perpetrated towards seniors.

What is Elderly Fraud?

Elder fraud is a scam operation that targets seniors. The scammer may be a family member or friend, or a stranger. The most common way for seniors to be targeted is over the Internet or email through phishing techniques, such as:

  • Internet offers or emails advertising discount prescriptions and low-cost health coverage
  • Internet offers that advertise financial support through home-equity loans or retirement savings
  • Friendships evolving through email communications, phone calls, and social media

Telemarketing Frauds and Common Schemes

An FBI sting in 1980 involving specialized AARP members led to 1200 arrests and hundreds of convictions for fraudulent telemarketers selling water purifiers, vacations, sweepstakes, and environmental packages. Telemarketing fraud is still a large concern for seniors. Other typical elderly fraud schemes include:

Romance: Criminals seek to capitalize on elderly victims who desire to find a companion using dating websites and social media.

Grandparent: Criminals contact an elderly individual claiming to be a child or grandchild and needing immediate financial assistance.

Technical support: Criminals contact the elderly individual and offer to fix nonexistent technical issues to gain access to their devices and obtain sensitive information.

Sweepstakes or lottery scams: Criminals contact the elderly victim and claim they won a lottery or sweepstakes for which they require a fee.

Government impersonation: Criminals pose as government employees and threaten to arrest or prosecute elderly individuals unless they provide payments.

Home repair: Criminals appear in person at the elderly individual’s property to offer home-improvement services that they never provide.

Family or caregivers: Relatives and acquaintances of elderly individuals may seek to take advantage of them to obtain money or property.

TV/radio: Criminals seek to target potential victims using false advertisements for services such as reverse mortgages and credit repair.

COVID-19 Elderly Scams

During the COVID-19 pandemic, elderly fraud substantially grew as elders were separated from their close family and friends to avoid the virus. Some COVID-19 scams involved selling counterfeit products like air filters, vaccines, and testing, as well as contact tracing schemes designed to trick elders out of money and gain pertinent personal information.

Multiple scams continue to target the elderly concerning COVID-19, including Social Security Administration (SSA) scams and charity requests. One study estimated that one in 10 seniors fell victim to elderly fraud in 2018, and this number increased during the pandemic as elders faced:

Similar Concerns

Seniors tend to share similar concerns, including high medication costs, a need for healthcare coverage, dwindling retirement funds and plans to provide for their loved ones. Phishing emails on these specific topics grab personal information.

Isolated or Alone

Seniors are uniformly isolated and spend much of their daily lives alone. In many cases of elderly fraud, if the victim had spoken to a family member or a friend, the scam would not have happened.

Naïve and Trusting

While most individuals over the age of 30 do not have any memories without the Internet, most seniors have lived their lives without using email or the Internet and have misappropriated trust. They are unaware of the complexities behind a seemingly safe email.

Diminished Decision-Making Skills

Most seniors experience some diminished mental capacity, and this affects their decision-making abilities.

Elderly Schemes Based on Personal Info

Some schemes are more targeted and involve emails and phone calls using personal information to target the individual. These targeted attacks use information gleaned through general phishing attacks to draw the individual into a scam.

Elderly fraud has resulted in devastating losses for victims, and the US Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has found that victims suffer an average loss of $34,200 through such scams. The FBI elder fraud department is focused entirely on elderly scams.

By |2023-07-31T12:44:57-05:00August 6th, 2023|Dr. Mauk's Boomer Blog, News Posts|Comments Off on Guest Blog: Fraud, Scams, and Other Challenges Elders Face

Navigating the Financial Decisions Seniors Face After Becoming Widowed – And How Caregivers Can Help

Experiencing the loss of a spouse is a major change for anyone to deal with, but for seniors who have shared their life with one person for years, losing a spouse often brings about unexpected consequences. Besides dealing with grief, there are also financial issues to confront.

Seniors who are going through this loss often feel overwhelmed by the decisions they need to make and how those decisions will impact their future. This is where adult children or other caregivers can make a big difference by helping your loved one make sense of it all, so they can move forward with a solid financial plan.

Read on for some more thoughts from International Rehabilitation Consultants.

Knowing When and How to Help

 As a caregiver of someone in this position, one thing you may be concerned about is whether your senior loved one should continue managing their own finances. Next Avenue points out that it’s important to address this concern openly before making any decisions. If you both feel like it’s a good idea for you to help, you will want to have your loved one sign a durable power of attorney, which will give you legal authority to access and manage accounts.

In some cases, your loved one may be able to manage their own accounts with a little assistance. Tech-savvy seniors should look into online banking, or as Bankrate recommends, consider trying apps that help, such as SilverBills or Ready, Set, Bank.

If your loved one wants to set up a nonprofit in their spouse’s memory and honor, you can help walk them through the process. Visit Zenbusiness to learn about legal requirements you need to tend to set up a nonprofit.

Health and Safety Concerns

 Besides helping with the mundane financial tasks, you can also help by looking over your loved one’s financial statements to make sure their health needs are being met. This is especially important if your loved one is living alone because health and safety could become a concern.

One specific area to discuss is healthcare coverage. You can start by asking what kind of Medicare plan they have or if they get insurance through retirement benefits, either their own or through their spouse. This is a crucial question, as the death of a spouse may change your loved one’s eligibility for employer retirement benefits.

If your loved one has Medicare, you may want to look into whether a Medicare Advantage plan would be right for their financial situation. These plans are sold through popular companies like Aetna, and many seniors like the expanded benefits they provide, such as dental and vision care and prescription drug coverage.

Taking the Next Steps

 Once you’ve looked at your loved one’s overall financial outlook, the next major question is “Where do we go from here?” Depending on your loved one’s income and savings, they may not need to make major changes. However, some seniors who become widowed are dealt a financial blow as a result of losing their spouse’s income.

In this case, it’s a good idea to seek advice from a financial advisor so that you don’t rush into decisions that could prove detrimental in the long term. For example, there are some tax implications of becoming widowed, including the decision to make early withdrawals from retirement savings. Doing this may seem like a good option for replacing a spouse’s lost income, but your loved one may lose out by having to pay additional taxes and penalties.

Another major consideration is whether your loved one will continue living at home. This is a personal decision, and finances are only part of the equation. If your loved one decides to sell their home, this is another issue where you want to do your research and consult with an expert, such as an attorney, who can guide you in the legal aspects of selling as a widow or widower.

By |2023-06-30T10:36:49-05:00July 3rd, 2023|Dr. Mauk's Boomer Blog, News Posts|Comments Off on Navigating the Financial Decisions Seniors Face After Becoming Widowed – And How Caregivers Can Help