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Caring for Aging Relatives

It happens somewhat slowly in the beginning, maybe with a small cough that gets worse as time goes on. It might simply begin with absent mindedness which is totally out of character, followed by total memory lapses. What do we do when our parents eventually need taking care of after they have spent so much of their adult lives taking care of us? What precisely is a child's responsibility to them? Is it self-centered to relocate them into an assisted home? And which siblings should shoulder the responsibility? These are questions which plague families whenever a parent happens to become sick.

It is certainly very normal for feelings of guilt and even occasionally depression to happen to you because of a deteriorating parent. But happily there are some good associations that do offer expert advice on coping with these problems. And there are specialists in this arena who can work with you to help you through the hard times.

Local hospitals, hospices and nursing homes usually have such names and numbers to assist you in this regard. If your dad feels certain that someone has broken into the house just to steal his chocolate when he has in fact eaten it himself, do not argue with him or say that his theories are irrational. Just calmly acknowledge how he feels and make him feel safe and loved. Do small things to alleviate his fears like simply letting him see you lock the doors or secure the windows at night before going to bed. If you get an unsatisfactory attitude from his physician, take him to a geriatric psychiatrist for further examination.

Erratic behavior is one of the earlies warning signals of dementia. If your mom starts cussing at the dinner table in front of the kids just because her steak is a bit undercooked, correct her calmly by teaching her the appropriate behavior: "Excuse me, my steak is a little undercooked, can you put it back on the grill for me please?"

Never resort to bad language yourself, as this will just perpetuate the unwanted behavior. If you feel yourself losing your own temper, take a few deep breaths until you are able to control your emotions. If you are being verbally assualted then it may be best to detach from being called offensive names. Give 3 warnings, use the silent treatment and then just walk away if the behavior goes on.

This can be one of the touphest problems to cope with, particularly for a very stubborn parent. Driving is so commonly related to having freedom and yet if you get reports that your dad is passing stop signs or driving on the wrong side of the street you have to deal with it. If you take his keys away from him, he may resent you, so it may be best to take a more indirect approach.

Take him or her for a "normal" checkup to check his vision, then ask the physician for a note expressing that the patient should not be driving anymore. Send the letter to the DMV requesting that his license be taken away. This may take a few weeks, but when the DMV takes away his license, be sympathetic and do research on transportation for seniors in the area, which is usually inexpensive and efficient.

For further information go to Fish Oil News and find out some additional facts about aging and the possible effect of fish oil on Alzheimers.

Ryan Joseph is a writer/researcher. For more info. visit http://www.omega3fishoil.org/

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