If your father, grandfather, or other father figure would rather do anything at all over going to the doctor, he’s in good company. The Cleveland Clinic recently conducted an interview on the health of senior men and found that only 50 percent of those interviewed get regular checkups, and almost three-quarters of them prefer to clean the bathroom over visiting the doctor!
There are various reasons for this avoidance, ranging from a concern about hearing bad news to merely not wishing to see the number displayed when stepping on the scale. Regardless of what is keeping a senior man that you know from receiving the medical attention he needs, there are various strategies you can try to help him feel more at ease in dealing with his health needs.
- Use “I” statements. The last thing you should do is cause the senior to feel defensive. Expressions like, “I’m feeling nervous about…” are much more effective than, “You never…” or “You always…”
- Keep your observations founded on facts. Using factual information along with your “I” statements can help raise awareness of a problem the older adult had been denying, such as, “I can see how hard it is becoming for you to walk without getting short of breath.”
- Enlist his assistance with problem-solving. Ask the senior if he has noticed the difficulty as well, and what he thinks will be the best course of action. If he communicates a barrier to going to the doctor, such as a lack of time, trouble with driving, etc., work together to find a resolution.
- Turn to an individual he trusts. Sometimes, senior men may be more at ease taking the advice of somebody other than their kids. Try explaining the specific situation to a person the senior trusts, like his spouse, siblings, a clergy member, or close friend, and find out if they are willing to talk with him about the need to see the doctor.
- Be patient. It may very well take more than one conversation until the senior actually makes an appointment with the doctor. Allow some time for him to think about your first discussion, and then gently bring up the topic again.
It is vital that you try to avoid reversing roles and parenting an older parent, nagging, or allowing the conversation to become explosive. Calmly and respectfully let your voice be heard, while keeping in mind that in the end, it is his decision.
Home With You Senior Care, offering home care in Owings Mills, MD and nearby areas, is here to help as well. Our aging care experts are skilled in encouraging the seniors in their care to take the best possible care of themselves. We can also provide accompanied transportation to doctors’ appointments, pick up prescriptions and help with medication reminders, and a whole lot more.