Signs Elderly Parents Need Care: Online Course Module 2

Are you caring for aging parents but aren’t sure what to look for that might be the signs elderly parents need care? From the small changes that caregivers may not notice to navigating care with doctors, the chances of missing important health issues increases.

Signs elderly parents need careChanges in the health of aging parents can happen suddenly without warning. In this online webinar caregiver education program, family caregivers will learn the connection between aging and chronic disease including step-by-step processes to manage daily and doctor appointment care for parents.

Research articles supporting this module are linked below in the text to make it easy for you to gain the knowledge you need to advocate for the care of elderly parents.

To succeed in navigating the healthcare system, consumers and patients must raise levels of health literacy to communicate their needs.

Practical and Proven Information to Care for Aging Parents

Module 2 in this online caregiver education program, helps caregivers create strategies to initiate practical conversations with parents about managing health and day-to-day activities.

Working with the healthcare system can be confusing. Caregivers and older adults feel like doctors talk over their heads by using complicated terms and abbreviations they don’t understand.

This mismatch in communication and important follow-through can lead to unintended consequences for patients. Patients who are actively involved in their care and who have caregivers to serve as advocates are more likely to get better care and recover faster from illness.

Reasons Why Patients Don’t Understand Their Doctors

Doctors who are highly educated may not be trained to communicate in ways that their patients understand. This can lead to risks for elderly parents and their caregivers. For example:

  • Patients who don’t understand what their doctors mean when they use medical terminology may be viewed as disinterested in their health or being non-compliant and refusing to follow medical recommendations.
  • Reasons, why medications or medical procedures are prescribed, may not be explained in a manner that makes sense. Patients may not understand that the risks of not taking medication properly may be greater than not taking the medication at all.
  • Poor patient-doctor communication results in medical conditions not being diagnosed, or worse conditions being misdiagnosed.

Learn More About the Other Seven Modules of Pamela’s Online Caregiver Education Program

Module Two: Signs Elderly Parents Need Care: Creating Strategies and Initiating Conversations

Each section below links to the caregiver webinar videos on Pamela’s YouTube Channel.

signs elderly parents need care

By working through this online caregiver education program about noticing signs elderly parents need care, family caregivers will be able to:

  • Identify the connection between aging and health declines
  • Explain how chronic diseases relate to each other
  • Create an action plan for elderly parents to receive better care from doctors
  • Adopt realistic expectations about caring for elderly parents and loved ones

Click on the links below in PINK to watch the webinar videos and to view the slides that correspond to each part of the program.

Section 1: When You Know Something is Wrong But You’re Not Sure What

Gain an understanding of medical terms like ADL, IADLs, chronic disease, and how to notice things that indicate a parent’s health might need attention. Learn important information to share with your parent’s doctor.

Slides M2_S1_P1

Additional Resources:

Joint Center For Housing Studies Disability Study of Harvard University 2016

Maresova et al. Consequences of Chronic Diseases and other Limitations Associated with Old Age. BMC Public Health (2019) 19_1431

Frenchay Activities Index

Higueras-Fresnillo etc. al. Physical Activity and Association Between Frailty and All-Cause and Cardiovascular Mortality in Older Adults. J Am Geriatr Soc. 2018 Nov:66(11) 2097-203

Learn about the connection between low physical activity and how the ability to perform ADLs and IADLs increases the likelihood of being diagnosed with a chronic disease. Then the reverse, is how having a chronic illness can make ADLS and IADLs more challenging for elderly parents to perform.

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Additional Resources::

Ehlenback WJ, Larson EB, Curtis JR, Hough CL. Physical function and disability after acute care and critical illness hospitalizations in a prospective cohort of older adults. J Am Geriatr Soc 2015; 63;2061-2069.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Chronic Disease Prevention

Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease. Chronic Disease Information by State

Why learning how health problems begin can change your life. Learn about the four main lifestyle risks for chronic disease and the effect on aging parents and their caregivers. Being old and sick isn’t something that you have to live with if you choose differently.

Slides M2_S1_P3

What geriatric health problems are most likely to be experienced by elderly parents? In this mini-biology lesson, family caregivers can visualize how the body works and declines with age. Learn about frailty, geriatric syndrome, and failure to thrive which are “medical speak” terms you may hear from doctors treating parents.

Slides M2_S1_P4

Additional Resources:

Aliberti MJR et al., Assessing Risk for Adverse Outcomes in Older Adults: the Need to Include Both Physical Frailty and Cognition. JAGS 64:477-483, 2019. DOI:10.2222/jgs.15683

The Body’s Organ System Definitions. Baum, Howie. Your Amazing Human Body

Dorner, Becky, Creative Nutrition: Solutions for Failure-to-Thrive Patients. Today’s Geriatric Medicine Aging Well, Vol 3. No. 4, P8.

Section 2: Navigating Hospitals, Specialists, and Doctor Appointments

Learn why family caregivers should always accompany aging parents to the hospital and be involved in arranging care after a discharge from the hospital. Learn about hospital admission, observation, and rehab and what this means for the care of loved ones.

Slides M2_S2_P1

Additional Resources:

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. A Comparison of All-Cause 7-Day and 30-Day Readmissions, 2013. Statistical Brief #230.

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program (HRRP)

Boyd, C.M., et al. Recovery of Daily Activities in Older Adults After Hospitalization for Acute Medical Illness.

Learn the importance of taking elderly parents to medical specialists. Why geriatricians, cardiologists, endocrinologists, pulmonologists, endocrinologists, and having a physician you trust is a must when elderly parents have complicated medical concerns.

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Additional Resources:

Emory Big 10 Basics in Geriatrics. Emory University Division of Geriatric Medicine and Gerontology.

Learn the benefits of establishing regular medical appointments for elderly parents. Regular medical appointments and check-ups are the keys to managing and maintaining health at any age. Becoming an educated and engaged caregiver for aging parents can ensure better medical care and well-being.

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Section 3: Getting What You Need Out of a 15-Minute Medical Appointment

How to prepare for elderly parents’ doctor appointments includes creating a pre-appointment checklist and a list of questions. Instead of feeling rushed in and rushed out of your doctor’s office, use Pamela’s 5-5-5 doctor appointment process to accomplish goals and identify preventative follow-up measures.

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Identify behaviors that parents model in families and how these form future habits and beliefs for their children. Gain insights to recognize and reduce family drama. Stop enabling behaviors in caregiving relationships.

Nurses, medical assistants, schedulers, billing personnel, and other staff at a parent’s doctor’s office can be helpful and save you time. Gain insights on how to work with medical office staff to get what you want from medical appointments. Plus learn ways to develop effective communication strategies to explain what you need and ask the right questions to get care for parents.

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Section 4: Creating Realistic and Reasonable Expectations for the Care of Elderly Parents

How to talk to elderly parents about caregiver burnout, responsibilities, and time commitments includes learning how to initiate positive conversations to balance caregiving duties and responsibilities with elderly parents. Learn why the most positive caregiving relationships are based on equal participation and thorough communication.

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Recite reasons that guilt exists in caregiving relationships. Learn how to manage regrets, opportunities, and choices. Implement steps to manage care situations that focus on reasonable actions and expectations.

Learn why creating caregiving agreements with elderly parents is essential to managing care expectations. Create a written plan to respond to changing circumstances and the increasing needs of parents. Written and notarized agreements, especially if parents pay family caregivers for their time are critical to avoiding issues if applying for Medicaid may be a future possibility.

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Additional Resources:

Swinkels, J. et. al. Explaining the Gender Gap in the Caregiving Burden of Partner Caregivers. J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci, 2019, Vol. 74, No. 2, 309-317.

The importance of estate planning for elderly parents and their caregivers includes understanding the role of a medical power of attorney, and the importance of having a DNR or MOST form in addition to a living will so that the wishes of elderly parents are clearly spelled out. Because the healthcare system does not always recognize the authority of a guardian or medical power of attorney, it’s important for family members to know the powers they have as agents.

Note: The Power of Attorney online course mentioned in this webinar has been retired and is no longer available. Instead, search for the terms power of attorney and guardianship to find more information on this website.

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Interested in more tips to care for elderly loved ones. Keep moving forward and check out all of the other modules in this caregiving program.

If You Found This Module Helpful, Learn More About the Other 7 Modules 



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