As our parents get older, over time we may feel like we fret about their health even more than they do. The roles are reversed, and we find ourselves asking if they are eating their vegetables or getting their vaccinations and checkups. But older adults don’t want to be talked down to or told what to do. So how can we gently ask dad if he is appropriately taking care of his health?
Remember to approach these conversations with respect, empathy, and understanding. Everyone’s experience of aging is unique, so it’s important to listen to your dad’s perspectives and preferences while offering guidance and support.
You may want to bring up the following topics with your dad:
Regular checkups: Older fathers should have regular visits with their primary care physician or geriatrician. These checkups typically involve assessing vital signs, reviewing medical history, evaluating overall health, and discussing any concerns or symptoms.
Blood pressure screening: Regular blood pressure checks are essential to monitor cardiovascular health. High blood pressure is a common condition among older adults and can increase the risk of heart disease and stroke.
Cholesterol screening: Screening for high cholesterol levels is important for detecting the risk of heart disease. The frequency of cholesterol checks may vary based on individual risk factors and previous results.
Fall prevention and home modifications: Assess your dad’s living environment for any potential safety hazards and suggest modifications as needed. This may include installing handrails, improving lighting, removing tripping hazards, or considering assistive devices that enhance mobility and safety. This will help your father avoid possibly life-altering falls.
Diabetes screening: Older adults are at an increased risk of developing diabetes. Regular screening for diabetes, typically through fasting blood sugar or HbA1c tests, is crucial for early detection and management.
Colorectal cancer screening: Colorectal cancer screenings, such as colonoscopies or stool tests, are recommended for older adults to detect any abnormalities or signs of cancer. The frequency and type of screening may depend on factors like family history and prior results.
Prostate cancer screening: Prostate cancer screenings, such as prostate-specific antigen (PSA) tests, may be discussed with healthcare providers to determine if they are appropriate for individual cases.
Vision and hearing checks: Regular vision and hearing screenings are important for maintaining optimal sensory function. These screenings can detect conditions like cataracts, glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration, and hearing loss.
Vaccinations: Older men should ensure they are up to date on vaccinations, including those recommended for their age group. Common vaccinations for older adults may include influenza (flu), pneumonia, shingles, and tetanus-diphtheria-pertussis (Tdap). Additionally, the COVID-19 vaccine is highly recommended for older adults.
Regular reviews of medication: Older adults are more likely to be taking more than one prescription. Your dad should keep track of his medication schedule and bring any current prescriptions to a healthcare provider when he has an appointment. This ensures your dad won’t be taking any medications that have adverse interactions or are no longer relevant.
It’s important to note that the specific recommendations may vary based on factors such as personal health history, family medical history, and individual risk factors. But by talking about your dad’s health regularly, you can rest assured that he is doing what he can to stay healthy and independent as long as possible.