Though respecting your parents’ privacy and independence is important, some information they withhold could be crucial to their health, safety, and general well-being. Many seniors tend to hide personal information like bruises, falls, and financial troubles from their kids and loved ones because they’re embarrassed to ask for help or want to protect their independence.
If you’ve noticed changes in your parent’s behavior or physical appearance, it may be time to ask some tough questions and get to the bottom of what is really going on in their life.
Injuries and falls are common occurrences for older adults. There might be many reasons why your parents would hide their injuries, bruises, and other physical ailments from you. They could be embarrassed or worried that you’ll take away their independence; they might be in denial of a diagnosis or don’t want to worry you.
Feeling dizzy or unsteady can contribute to mishaps like falls. Dizziness could be the sign of a medical issue such as low blood pressure, or a side effect from medications. Although your parents may not want to alarm you, these are potentially dangerous problems that need to be addressed.
Be vigilant and watch out for any signs of new bruising or illness. Just letting them know that there are options available can make an enormous difference if they decide to ask for your assistance later on. They do not necessarily need to tell you that something has happened, but telling someone else such as a medical professional can keep your parents from becoming further harmed and allow them to keep their independence.
Financial problems are another secret your parents might try to keep from you. They may have issues with dwindling savings accounts, gambling, or purchasing frivolous things. Also, although unimaginable, it’s not uncommon for a family member or caregiver to help themselves to a senior’s funds.
Money can be a sensitive subject, and it can be difficult to start conversations around it. Don’t ambush your family member with questions and make them feel ashamed about their money troubles. Remember, they chose not to tell you about this because they’re probably embarrassed or afraid of looking bad in front of you.
Instead, try approaching the subject with sensitivity. Here are some ways you may be able to help:
• If they need money, help them seek assistance from federal, state or local government programs.
• If they need help managing their finances, set up a monthly budget for them to follow.
• If you suspect financial abuse, it’s critical that you try to intervene to stop this as soon as possible.
Car Accidents and Driving Tickets
We all remember that feeling of independence when we drove a car for the first time. Your parents don’t want to lose that independence, even if it’s safer to do so. If they’re involved in a car accident or get a driving infraction, they might keep it from you because they’re afraid you might take their car keys away. However, this is essential information to know since auto accidents can signify worsening vision, mobility issues, or various other health conditions.
Less than 1 in 7 incidents of physical elder abuse are reported to caregivers. This indicates that seniors are less likely to tell someone if they’re being abused or neglected by a family member, neighbor, or even a paid helper as they’re afraid it might result in more significant problems for the family.
How to Talk to Your Parents About Secrets They’re Keeping
It can be very hard to talk to your parents about sensitive issues such as the cause of a bruise or an explanation of a new dent in the car, however, these conversations need to happen. Start by finding an appropriate time when both you and your parents are free to talk without interruptions.
Though it’s critical to be honest and direct when addressing your parents, don’t be too confrontational. If you’re worried about them reacting negatively to a topic, try giving them hints before you directly broach the subject. For instance, you could show them magazines or articles on a subject you wish to address, to help lead into conversation.
Try to develop an open line of communication with your parents about everything, so that in the future they’re comfortable coming to you with any issue before it becomes a secret. Having that close bond will also help you be aware of the secrets they aren’t intentionally keeping but are actually red flags for more serious issues like changes in judgement and mental capacity.