When the holidays arrive, many families with elderly people looking for a temporary residence to house them, especially if the elderly, for health reasons, can not accompany his family on the trip they have scheduled. Sometimes, when there are several children, the care of the elderly is distributed throughout the year, especially now that the economic problems derived from the crisis, the new family models, and the help offered by the Dependency Law, have propitiated that older people adopt the model known as grandfather swallow, which is that the elder changes his address so that his children can share the task of his care.

It is estimated that 30% of people over 65 live in the company of their children and, of these, 34% have no dependency, 37% have a slight dependence, 14% moderate, and 15% suffer a serious dependence. In addition, it is estimated that 0.6% of seniors change homes frequently, while around 2.8% moves from one child's home to another's at least once a year, especially in the Vacation periods.

In the opinion of Puerto Gómez, vice president of Gerontology of the Spanish Society of Geriatrics and Gerontology (SEGG), the continuous transfer of domicile hinders the integration of the elderly in the family unit and its environment, and hinders their social relations.

The constant changes of address can lead to important problems of adaptation, uprooting and disorientation

The expert explains that the need of the elderly to adapt to a new space and the different customs and schedules of each household, can cause family conflicts, to which is added that a poor organization of care that requires the elderly also has as a consequence that the main caregiver suffers from overload. In addition, continuous changes of address cause the elderly to become disoriented, lose autonomy, and unable to take part in family decisions. It is not just a new house, it must also adapt to a new neighborhood, a different health center and, even, sometimes, a different city, and this will make it difficult or will prevent their social relations from being extended beyond the familiar surroundings.

Change of doctors

Change of address also usually implies that the medical professionals who control the health of the elderly are different, which may affect the monitoring of possible chronic diseases and the corresponding treatment. Going to the doctor's office that you do not know can also cause the elderly anxiety and depression, and thus decrease their quality of life.

To avoid situations of lack of coordination between the different health professionals who care for the elderly, the SEGG advises that elderly people who change their address regularly, or during holidays, have a document that reports on their health status, and contribute data on any illness that they suffer, the treatments they are following, how regularly they undergo revisions, as well as everything related to allergies or intolerances they suffer, and is accompanied by a note explaining when they change their home, to facilitate the the work of the doctors, and that they do not prescribe medicines or request tests when it is not necessary.

To mitigate as much as possible the impact that constant changes in the grandfather swallow, Puerto Gómez states that it is important that the elderly occupy a specific place in the family, and ensure that they have sufficient privacy so that they can maintain their customs, independence and autonomy. In addition, you should try to:

  • That the stay in each of the houses be as long as possible, spacing the transfers.
  • That the different families maintain an adequate communication that allows them to know the needs and problems of the elderly.

Source: Spanish Society of Geriatrics and Gerontology

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