If your dad, grandfather, or other father figure appears to have a preference for doing anything at all over going to the doctor, he’s in great company. The Cleveland Clinic recently interviewed men on this very issue and found that only ½ of them get routine examinations, and almost ¾ of those interviewed would prefer to clean the toilet than visit the doctor!
Various reasons are given for this avoidance, ranging from a fear of hearing bad news to merely not wanting to see the number shown when stepping onto the scale. Whatever is preventing the older men in your life from receiving the medical attention they need, there are several tactics you can try to help them feel more at ease in taking care of their health needs.
- Use “I” statements. The last thing you should do is cause the senior to feel defensive. Phrases like, “I’m feeling nervous about…” are much more effective than, “You never…” or “You always…”
- Keep your observations founded on facts. Using factual evidence along with your “I” statements can help raise awareness of an issue the senior has been denying, such as, “I see how hard it is becoming for you to walk without feeling short of breath.”
- Get his assistance with problem-solving. Ask the senior if he has noticed the issue as well, and what he thinks would be the best plan of action. If he conveys a barrier to visiting the doctor, such as not enough time, difficulty with driving, etc., work together to come to a resolution.
- Turn to an individual he trusts. Often, senior men may feel more at ease heeding the recommendations of somebody other than their children. Try explaining the specific situation to someone the senior trusts, such as his spouse, siblings, a clergy member, or good friend, and determine if they’re willing to talk to him in regards to the need to see the doctor.
- Have patience. It may very well require more than one conversation before the senior decides to make an appointment with the doctor. Allow some time for him to think about your first discussion, and then gently broach the subject again.
It’s vital that you refrain from reversing roles and parenting an older parent, nagging, or allowing the discussion to become volatile. Calmly and respectfully allow your voice to be heard, while keeping in mind that ultimately it is his choice.
Hearts at Home In-Home Care’s experts in senior care in Shawnee, KS and surrounding areas are here to assist too. Our aging care experts are skilled in encouraging seniors to take the best possible care of themselves. We can also provide accompanied transportation to doctors’ appointments, pick up prescriptions and help with medication reminders, and so much more.