Experts call on families to monitor dad's physical and mental health
Towson, MD -- (SBWIRE) -- 06/17/2009 -- The new tie and golf balls are a nice gesture, but this Father's Day dad might need a gift society has conditioned him not to ask for- HELP! This could mean a helper to do simple tasks dad can no longer manage or a companion to help dad socialize and relieve depression and loneliness. Recent studies show men don't seek psychological and physical help as easily as women because our culture preaches to boys early on that asking for help is not masculine but rather a sign of weakness.
"We see many elderly men needing the most help but they are the last to ask for it," says Peter Ross, CEO and founder of Senior Helpers, the nation's fastest growing provider of in-home senior care. "An elderly man could be suffering from deep depression or a physical ailment, but he's too proud to seek assistance."
Just ask Mark Snider from Charlotte, North Carolina. His 83-year-old dad, Rod Snider, had symptoms of dementia for several months before he finally told his family he had a problem. Rod was having difficulty sleeping and was becoming forgetful. His family blamed old age.
Mark says his dad suddenly turned over his car keys and said, "Son I no longer feel I should drive." Mark hired Senior Helpers for his dad, 24/7, to help him back to bed during the night so he would not accidentally fall, take his medicine on time, go for walks and even work with Scrabble pieces and math flash cards to keep his mind sharp. Rod died last month from an aggressive form of dementia, just months after he was officially diagnosed.
• A 2008 study from the University of Cincinnati and the Medical University of South Carolina finds in the U.S. boys learn early on that men should be strong, independent, tough and self- reliant. The study calls the contrast between men's and women's help- seeking behavior a "growing concern."
• In the U.S., men die, on average, close to seven years younger than women and have higher rates of the 15 leading causes of death. A study by Clark University and Boston College says, "improving professional help seeking is one obvious way to better men's lives."
• A new national poll conducted by Senior Helpers found 70% (7 out of 10) adult children would overwhelmingly choose their mom over their dad to move in with them if their elderly parents could not take care of themselves. Ross believes, " children think of mom first because she's more likely to ask for help while dad appears independent and in control."
"The best way to get dad help is to offer it with an emphasis on problem solving rather than emotion," adds Ross. "Since men are competitive and success oriented, the best way to approach Dad is to acknowledge the courage it takes to ask for and accept assistance and then point out why it is a good idea."
Ross also advises basing your offer to help dad on these warning signs:
• Difficulty getting around. Falls are the leading cause of death and injury for Americans over age 65.
• Memory loss. It's one thing to forget where the keys are. It's another to forget if you took your medicine, left the stove on, if you forget the day or your location. Severe memory loss could be a sign of severe dementia.
• Change in appearance or behavior. Weight loss could indicate a senior is not eating properly. A lack of hygiene or unkempt appearance may be a sign of depression or the inability to perform the basic activities of daily living.
For more information, please visit http://www.seniorhelpers.com.