Can a Phone Call Replace a Visit With Your Elderly Parents?
Phone calls are a great way to stay in touch, but there’s no substitute for human interaction. This is particularly true with aging parents, who benefit greatly when they spend time with their children.
Spending quality time together enjoying a meal, going for a walk, or talking over a cup of tea reinforces your love for them and has clear emotional benefits, but that’s not all. Keep reading to learn more about the importance of in-person visits with your elderly parents.
1. Visits help you keep track of health
A senior’s health can decline rapidly, and like many older adults, your parents could be very skilled at hiding new and old problems alike. If you notice these red flags during your visit, consider calling your mother or father’s doctor:
- Weight loss is one of the most obvious sign of ill health. It could be tied to a variety of issues, which is why it’s good to get the doctor involved as soon as you notice.
- Changes in mobility and/or balance could be due to muscle, joint, or neurological conditions. They can also be a precursor to a fall.
- Changes in mood and/or behavior can go unnoticed during a phone conversation, but they’re much harder to mask in-person. Common changes that adult children notice in their parents include depression, anxiety, withdrawal from social activities and hobbies, different sleep patterns, and diminished personal hygiene.
- Changes in their home environment. If a normally tidy person begins leaving dishes unwashed or stops doing the laundry, it could be a sign of a deeper problem.
Witnessing any of the above changes can be a feel daunting, but it’s important to remember that there are resources to support your loved one getting help, and they are fortunate to have your perspective and assistance!
2. Visits help prevent elder abuse
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), elder abuse, which includes neglect and exploitation, is experienced by 1 out of every 10 adults age 60 and older who live at home.
Elder abuse can be difficult to identify, but these are some potential signs to be aware of:
- Unexplained weight loss
- Withdrawal from loved ones
- Unexplained injuries or an unkempt appearance
- Recent changes in spending or banking patterns
Many signs of elder abuse are subtle, and may only be noticed when spending quality time with your aging parents. If you see these symptoms or others, start an open and loving conversation with mom or dad to build trust and better understand what’s happening. The CDC also highlights how community and social support become increasingly important for emotional well-being and resilience through the years.
Mom or dad may also be afraid to speak up in the face of abuse. During your visits, clearly express that you’re available to help no matter what might be happening. With regular contact, you can be proactive about these sensitive conversations to ensure your aging parents are happy, healthy and getting the support they need.
3. Visits help prevent loneliness
There are very real health consequences from loneliness, as AgingCare explains in this in-depth article, including 59% greater risk of experiencing loneliness-induced mental and physical decline. Specifically, ability to perform important activities of daily living (ADLs) can suffer, according to a University of California, San Francisco study on isolated seniors.
Thankfully, the effects of isolation can be reversed by actively reaching out, asking your parent to share the highlights of their day, and by helping them find more opportunities to enjoy human connection frequently and consistently.
Regular in-person visits are the perfect way to build a meaningful relationship. Making sure your parents stay happy and healthy is another bonus, because your attention makes it easier to identify any additional support that might be needed. This type of love and attention is one of the greatest gifts you can give, and the memories you make will never fade.
As a local nonprofit, The Argyle has brought high quality and affordable care to Denver’s seniors since 1874. To this day, our caring team remains committed to encouraging independence and preserving the dignity of every resident who calls our community home.