(NewsUSA) - Mammograms. Colonoscopies. Dental Cleanings. There are many diagnostic exams that we may not enjoy; however, we follow the prescribed regimen for our health and well-being. Health experts are encouraging families and older adults to take the same approach to a newly recommended examination that many adults are avoiding: the Elderoscopy.
An Elderoscopy is an important assessment that examines living and financial issues, health, relationships, driving and end-of-life plans. Older adults and their loved ones may avoid conversations about taboo aging topics because they fear the subject is too uncomfortable or sensitive. In fact, research from Home Instead, Inc. and The Marist College Poll shows that nearly 1 in 6 Americans would rather have a colonoscopy than discuss end-of-life plans with their loved ones.
“It can be difficult, especially for adult children, to accept that their loved ones are getting older,” says Lakelyn Hogan Eichenberger, Ph.D., gerontologist and caregiving advocate at Home Instead.
“But it’s important that families don’t wait until there is an emergency to put plans in place. With proper preparation, families can alleviate stress and the uneasiness that may arise when planning for the future.”
Many families prioritize conversations about their wills and other plans for after death.
Just as important, an Elderoscopy conversation is about living. It is about understanding older loved ones’ wishes and empowering them to live life to the fullest and age with dignity and respect. Hogan Eichenberger recommends the following tips when starting these discussions:
Keep an open mind: Certain topics, such as how and when to stop driving or where to live, may evoke an emotional reaction. Try to put yourself in an older adult’s position, and seek to understand by listening to their concerns. Be mindful not to get offended by what you hear.
Don’t dwell on uncomfortable discussions. Unless there is a time constraint, it may be best to return to a certain topic that is causing angst at a later time. Recognize that this is an ongoing discussion and that wishes should be revisited periodically. Ultimately, developing plans for aging should bring a sense of calm and assurance to all parties involved, knowing that the wishes of a loved one are understood.
Express your own wishes. It may be easier for an older adult to talk through what they desire for their final years if the conversation feels like a two-way street. Discuss how you envision aging when posing questions to your loved ones.
Bring conversation starters. Photos and family heirlooms can open the door to a conversation about aging plans and alleviate some of the pressure of having sensitive conversations. Older adults may enjoy reminiscing about the past while they talk about what’s next.
While older adults may plan carefully for the financial aspects of retirement and what they will do with their free time, many often fall short of planning ahead for their later years. To help guide families in talking with older loved ones, Home Instead developed Elderoscopy. The program includes tools for families to initiate conversations around aging and identify their current planning needs.
While an Elderoscopy is not an official medical procedure, it is a critical step in the aging process. For more information on personalized care provided by local Home Instead offices and resources for conversations about final wishes, visit: www.HomeInstead.com/Elderoscopy.