Aging parents can gain by having their adult children know about their care. Up to a point.
By Lisa Ward
As baby boomers increasingly assist their elderly parents with health issues large and small, families are having to rethink personal boundaries.
Should a son accompanying his mother on a visit to her primary-care physician reveal that she is struggling with depression? Is it any business of an elderly man’s family that he is using Viagra?
“There is a lot to navigate, and there can be turbulence,” says Sandra Petronio, a professor at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, and director of its Communication Privacy Management Center.
Family members’ involvement can certainly help a loved one receive better care, since they can act as a sounding board, keep track of important details and help with logistics. Crucial information also may come from the adult child or advocate. But by including their adult children, elderly parents lose the exclusive right to decide who is privy to their medical information and how much other people should know about potentially sensitive diagnoses, procedures or prescriptions.
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