If your dad, grandfather, or other father figure seems to prefer doing anything at all over visiting the doctor, he is in great company. The Cleveland Clinic recently interviewed men on this very issue and observed that only ½ of them get regular checkups, and almost ¾ would prefer to clean the bathroom than visit the doctor!
The reasoning behind this avoidance varies, ranging from a concern with hearing bad news to merely not wanting to see the number revealed when being weighed. No matter what is keeping a senior man in your life from receiving the medical attention he needs, there are several approaches you can try to help him feel more comfortable in addressing his health needs.
- Use “I” statements. The last thing you want to do is make the senior defensive. Expressions such as, “I’m feeling worried about…” are much more effective than, “You never…” or “You always…”
- Keep your observations based around facts. Using factual evidence along with your “I” statements often helps raise awareness of an issue the senior has been denying, for example, “I can see how hard it is becoming for you to walk without becoming short of breath.”
- Get his help in problem-solving. Ask the senior if he has detected the difficulty as well, and what he thinks would be the ideal course of action. If he communicates a barrier to going to the doctor, such as a lack of time, difficulty with driving, etc., work together to come to a solution.
- Turn to someone he trusts. At times, senior men may be more comfortable taking the advice of somebody other than their children. Try explaining the problem to someone the older adult trusts, like his spouse, siblings, a clergy member, or good friend, and determine if they’re willing to speak to him in regards to the need to see the doctor.
- Have patience. It could very well take multiple conversations before the senior decides to make an appointment with the doctor. Allow time for him to mull over your first discussion, and then gently bring up the topic again.
It is crucial that you refrain from switching roles and parenting an older parent, nagging, or allowing the discussion to become volatile. Calmly and respectfully allow your voice to be heard, while bearing in mind that in the end it is his decision.
Live Free Home Health Care, a provider of senior care in Plymouth, NH and the surrounding area, is here to assist in caring for senior men’s health as well. Our in-home care experts are skilled in encouraging older adults to take the best possible care of themselves. We can also provide accompanied transportation to doctors’ visits, pick up medications and assist with medication reminders, and so much more.