Color & Control:

Expert Advice

Rural life is causing risks

Q) A lot of people live in rural communities where services aren’t available. Several of my relatives are quite isolated and without support. How can I help?

A) Aside from challenges in being able to access quality medical care, older adults have been shown to be at risk in the areas of transportation, financial matters, and social connection. 

A recent study called out loneliness during the pandemic and, “Suggested its impact on health to be the equivalent of smoking 15 cigarettes a day.”

To try to help it might be wise to try and set up and encourage your loved ones to use technology to help them: a) Connect to telehealth services. b) Consider a Lifeline system to help monitor for emergencies. c) Participate in online support group discussions. d) Order online grocery and supply delivery. e) Research community activities for them to try, and go to first sessions with them. f) Arrange for an Occupational therapist to do a safety assessment in the home. g) Advertise for ride share or a local community volunteer driver. h) Stay in touch so you can monitor their needs, mood and energy level regularly. 

Sweet little old lady no more

Q) My aunt has gone from being the happiest, kindest human on earth to being grumpy, nasty woman who refuses help and won’t let us into her home I’m worried.

A) Best option is likely to see if you can determine a justified reason for her fears/anger/change in behaviours. Try to engage with her in an unpressured way and ask gentle questions. Take the time actively listen and understand her feelings and frustrations. 

This is not an uncommon situation that many families like yours face. Depending on a person’s living circumstances and health, frustration or irrational behaviour can surface. Sometimes it’s a change of scenery that’s needed. Alternately, it could be a medication side effect, poor nutrition or loneliness that is negatively affecting your aunt’s mood. 

Be patient and take time to figure things out. But, when you and others really start to notice signs of undue stress, worry, irritability or complaints its worth checking with a health professional to rule out this
isn’t a sign of cognitive decline.

Never too old

Q) Mother has decided to go back to school and study to be a chef. She’s always been passionate about cooking but she’s 77 and counting. What should I say?

A) Good for her. You should be supportive providing she can a) reasonably get to school and back b) afford the tuition fees. c) promises to share the fruits of her learning!!! There’s an emerging trend of older adults going back to school to focus on what they are still passionate about or topics the are interested in pursuing. Continuing education has additional benefits beyond the learning—it is a great chance to meet like-minded people, and stay sharp.

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