Monday, May 2, 2011

Ask Us Anything: What Can I Do for a Lonely Parent?

"My father is in his 80s and is in fair health. However, he experiences loneliness but does not live near any relatives. I've recommended that he move or have a companion visit him on a regular basis but he refuses.

He may be more willing to listen to a medical professional. Do physicians make recommendations regarding living arrangements?"

Patricia Weeks O'Connor, Executive Director of the OLV Senior Neighborhood, Responds:

Patricia Weeks O'Connor, Executive Director of the OLV Senior NeighborhoodYou can definitely enlist the help of your father's physician in encouraging him to consider all of his options for increased socialization.

Call your father's physician ahead of his next appointment and share your thoughts and concerns with him or her.

While his physician may not be able to give you feedback unless your father has authorized him/her to do so (due to HIPAA privacy laws), s/he can listen to your concerns and use that information in advising your father. You are wise to be thinking about this for your father, as social isolation can cause depression in the elderly and can lead to more rapid physical decline.

Your father doesn't necessarily need to move. He can take advantage of day programs offered at the senior citizen center in your community (many offer transportation, making outings easier).

Another option may be a church-sponsored day trip program where seniors go on outings. Attending such programs two or three times a week may be just what he needs to stay connected to the outside world!

— Patricia Weeks O'Connor, Executive Director of the OLV Senior Neighborhood and Mercy Nursing Facility

The OLV Neighborhood houses Catholic Health's LIFE program. Its day center offers a place where seniors may engage in recreational and social activities and receive personal care and supervision during the day. Click here for details.

If you have a question about your health, click here to ask our experts.

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