Ever wonder when is the right time to encourage your elderly mom or dad to stop driving? Have you wondered when to have a nurse or an aid move in with them… or send them to an assisted living?
Anyone who is fortunate to have their parents reach a ripe old age will have to face these questions one day – and for many of us, whose parents are part of the baby boomer generation, that day may come soon.
Going in, it is important to understand that this is a very delicate situation that can cause many problems if handled wrongly. One of the most important thing we have in life is the will to live, to be productive and to be a part of society. If we take these opportunities away from our parents as they age, we may cause a downward spiral in their lives.
And yet, although nobody wants to get old and nobody wants to be dependent on other people, it’s inevitable that we are all going to get old one day and might have to come onto help from others.
So, what are the best ways to deal with this?
The first thing we have to think about is safety. It is imperative that Mom and Dad are in a safe and comfortable environment. There are many things that can be done to improve home safety as our parents lose their agility and stability. For example, bed rails can help make sure they don’t fall out of their bed. Bathrooms can be made safer with strategically-placed grab bars. In addition, transfer benches make getting in and out of the bathtub safer, while shower chairs can help people with less stability shower independently.
It may be a good idea to discuss the installation of such items with your parent and reach a mutual agreement before you go ahead with it. A family friend of mine fell out of his bed one night, so his daughter installed a bed rail the next morning. In came her dad with a hammer and cracked it in half, telling his daughter, “you think I’m not capable?!”
Another thing we have to think about is independence. Obviously every situation can be different and the amount of dependence depends on the senior’s capabilities. However even if they have low mobility and can’t do everything, there are many daily living aids they can use such as sock aids and reachers. For individuals who cannot walk but have upper strength manual wheelchairs are recommended. Even individuals who are not strong enough to maneuver a manual wheelchair, a mobility scooter or a power wheelchair can provide sought-after independence. Another option you can consider: a lot of manual wheelchairs have the option to remove the leg rests thus making it possible for mom to push herself with her feet.
In today’s technological world there are devices that an elderly parent can wear around their neck and push in case of emergency. This device will allow your parent to live semi-independently, only calling on your help when necessary.
The decisions that need to be made as our parent age are difficult choices.
On the one hand, we want to give them full independence – but on the other hand, we want to be sure that our parents are safe. Even if we do decide to have them move out of their homes, more questions arise: Should they move in with you? Should they go to an assisted living? Should they live in a separate apartment attached to your home? Or should they stay home, but have a professional caregiver move in with them?
As you face these difficult decisions, remember that there are a ton of senior resources and referral agencies out there for almost every aspect of healthcare that can be reached out to, to help you make the best decisions for your aging parents.