It’s a conflict that emerges for a number of families: seniors adamantly want to age in place at home, while their family members worry about their health and safety. And there’s an argument to be made in both scenarios. Seniors, especially individuals who live alone, encounter multiple dangers: falls that could lead to serious injury, trouble in maintaining the lifestyle to which they’ve become accustomed as aging progresses, even a vulnerability to con artists. Yet independence is vital to self-worth, irrespective of age.
Striking a balance that meets the requirements of both sides may very well be difficult, but there are some important factors to take into account that will help.
- Let go of ageism. While there is certainly credibility to worries over safety for older adults at home, especially if they live alone, the other side of the picture is our perception of aging. Pioneer Network President/CEO Penny Cook explains, “Our negative perception helps marginalize older adults. They become ‘less than’ because that helps us cope and then we take on the parental model.” A shift in this reasoning allows us to retain the respect for seniors which they so appropriately deserve, as well as know how integral it really is for them to remain as independent as possible throughout aging.
- Know their rights. Legally, unless older adults are contending with cognitive challenges, they continue to have the ability to make decisions independently – no matter if the choices made are not the ones we would have selected for them. Attorney Barbara Cashman explains, “Even if I decide to give my money away, a judge could say that it’s my money and my choice what to do with it.”
- Dialogue is key. As with any issue, calm, logical discussions are definitely the best remedy in diffusing difficult situations and arriving at an answer that really works for everyone. Sit down with your parent and clarify your concerns, but prepare yourself to listen with an open mind to his or her thoughts and views. Realize that a resolution will not be reached in a single discussion; use an initial discussion as a beginning point, and agree to revisit the matter periodically to reevaluate.
Most especially, be aware that there is a viable option: the professional in-home care services of Generations at Home. We can aid in a number of ways to enhance well-being, delivering family members peace of mind, while empowering your loved one to maintain independence, making his or her own choices and decisions in the comfort and familiarity of home. Contact us at 727-940-3414 for an in-home assessment to find out more.