Caring for Your Parents
The first in a series looking at taking care of Alaska's aging population
It all comes down to risks… risks such as falling and not being found right away. Falls are the leading cause of fatal injuries among seniors, but some would rather live with those risks than give up their independence.
“I think as children, the most difficult thing and I know this for me is allowing my parents to have those risks. But they are adults and unless they are incapacitated, people can make their own decisions about how much risk they want to take and how they can maintain their independence,” said Meyer from the city’s Health and Human Services department.
“[It’s part of our] lifestyle and culture in Alaska,” said Wawrzonek. “We are independent spirits. When you take pioneers who have really built this state and say you will get up at this time, eat at this time and this is what you are going to eat because I am choosing it for you. It makes it really difficult.”
To lessen that difficulty, you need to start having those conversations now.
“None of us know when something is going to happen,” Meyer said. “And we can’t make a decision for ourselves. Who do we trust to make that decision? Being very thoughtful about that. It’s not always simple to have my daughter do it or have my son do it. You need to be very thoughtful about that.”
Alaska’s Adult Protective Services and Long Term Care Ombudsman’s office are seeing a large increase in senior abuse and neglect cases: an increase of 333 percent over the last six years. But sometimes it can be unintentional.
“Unfortunately, there are families out there that abuse… neglect… exploit. But there are also families that maybe just didn’t know what they were doing would raise a red flag, or they get worried that mom is stealing from them. Doesn’t mean they are. Just means that to the wrong person, it could get reported,” Wawrzonek said.
“One of the things we can do as a community is to be educating everyone,” said Meyer. “From the hairdresser to the bank teller to the mailman to those signs to tell everyone that ‘wow, that’s a yellow flag. I need to check this out.’”
That means checking things out while trying to respect the independence and freedom of choice of those that paved the way for us.
Join us each week on CBS 11 News and ktva.com as we take a look at the challenges and opportunities facing our seniors and how their care is falling on the shoulders of their children.
For more information on text KTVAAGING to 28201.