When Your Parents Lose Their Independence



Moving is always a stressful experience. But for an elderly person who may be forced to give up his or her home — and possibly independence — it can be downright traumatic.

However, an article I read last week in the Wall Street Journal on line offered some tips on how the transition can be eased.

The most important, the article said, is to offer the older folks the opportunity to make their own choices, if possible. The earlier planning is started, the better.

Starting the discussion early allows for all options to be considered.

Of course, many older folks will not want to have that discussion, but it is important to remind them that if the time comes when they cannot make their own decisions, they will have to be made for them. This way, they get to choose.

If assisted living is in the picture, the adult children should do the research and present the options to their parents. They should be given the chance to visit the various facilities and, once a decision is made, should be given the opportunity to decide what personal possessions they want to bring with them. Many facilities will have floor plans available so the furniture layout can be finalized weeks in advance.

Make sure to get the new residence set up, and the personal items unpacked before your parents spend their first night there. Check with the on-site case managers to see if the adult children should spend a lot of time there in the first few weeks. Some facilities have advised that the children not spend too much time with their parents because it gives the parent a chance to get adjusted on their own.

At the same time, you cannot neglect your own families and duties.

Moving parents can be a challenge, but, done right, it can be done well.

Meditation May Help Seniors Cope With Loneliness

I recently came across an article describing how meditation may provide seniors with both psychological and physical benefits. A study conducted at UCLA found that meditation might reduce feelings of loneliness and the expression of certain genes that cause inflammation.

Meditating in Madison Square Park, Manhattan, New York City (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Meditating in Madison Square Park, Manhattan, New York City (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The study involved 40 people between the ages of 55 and 85, who were assigned to either a control group or a group that practiced what is called mindfulness meditation. This involves training the mind to focus on events taking placing at the present moment instead of past or future events. Participants in the mindfulness meditation group attended weekly two-hour meetings and meditated daily for 30 minutes. After eight weeks, the participants who had been meditating reported feeling significantly less lonely.

The study found that the mindfulness meditation group benefitted physically as well, showing ‘lower levels of an inflammatory marker C-reactive protein and beneficial alterations in a genetic transcription factor (NK-kB), which has been found to be important in heart disease.’

According to Steven W. Cole, the study’s lead scientist, “Our work presents the first evidence showing that a psychological intervention that decreases loneliness also reduces pro-inflammatory gene expression. If this is borne out by further research, MBSR could be a valuable tool to improve the quality of life for many elderly.”