When Home Alone Is No Longer Safe

by Ed Moran, LCSW

I don’t think I can pinpoint the exact moment I first noticed my mother was getting older. Sure, I know on an intellectual level that Mom, like everyone else, gains a year with each birthday, but I’m talking about the physical changes that accompany aging. They were so subtle at first that I hardly took note. Though Mom is still very active at 75 and sharp as a tack, I’ve begun to wonder what life will be like for her in five or ten years. Can she stay in Florida, or should I try to bring her to Connecticut to live with family? Should she sell the house? Will she need home care? Will she need assisted living? Will she want any of these things? And what if she doesn’t want them? What will I do then? You may have noticed already how my anxiety over Mom’s advancing age is beginning to color my thought process, which is not necessarily a bad thing, if kept in moderation. Understanding our own feelings about our aging parents — anxiety and all — is crucial for making the best decisions about their care.

My mother has been very good about communicating her wants and needs, as well as discussing pertinent “what ifs.” If additional care were ever needed, I think my siblings and I would have a great chance of being on the same page with each other, as well as with Mom. But what about the situations where an aging parent is resistant? Naturally we all worry about our parents, especially if they’re alone. We see signs that living independently is becoming increasingly difficult, yet the parent denies the need for help. The situation becomes even more complicated when one parent accepts the need for change while the other parent resists.

In these situations there are many things you can do to facilitate a successful transition from independent living to outside care:

  1. Be aware of your own feelings.  Being in a position to make care decisions for parents can drum up guilt, anxiety and even anger or frustration. It’s important to separate at least some of your emotions from the process, so it does not cloud the decision entirely.
  2. Utilize support systems.  Speaking with friends who have been in similar situations can help you clear your head and reduce your anxieties. Caregiver support groups can also be helpful.
  3. Reach agreement.  Siblings and parents who are on the same page, who agree on necessary changes, can go a long way in bringing awareness to a resistant parent in need
  4. Try to be patient.  Remember that you’re asking your parent to give up a lifetime of independence. It might take some time for them to warm up to the idea of relocating or accepting strangers in their home.
  5. Use professional relationships.  Guidance is sometimes better received from doctors or other trusted professionals, such as pastors or rabbis.
  6. Start slow.  Take a gradual approach with bringing a stranger into the home. It can make a resistant parent more at ease.
  7. Access community services.  Senior-service agencies are a wealth of information about options for parents struggling to live independently.
  8. Understand your limits.  We are not always able to convince a parent to move in with family, allow in-home assistance or relocate to an assisted-living facility. As hard as it is, sometimes it will take a crisis for a parent or their children to accept the reality that Mom or Dad can’t live alone any longer.

Acknowledging that our parents aren’t the spry, active individuals they once were is certainly a bitter pill to swallow.  Where there was once great strength, we may now see only fragility. The idea of forcing services on our parents, against their will, may result in powerful feelings of guilt and even shame. Knowing when to step in and how to go about it is crucial in providing them with greater strength, stability and security.  They’re our moms and dads — they deserve every bit of help we can arrange, but also to be part of the decision-making, whenever possible.

 

Ed Moran, LCSW is a clinical social worker at Family Centers Serving Greenwich, Stamford, Darien, New Canaan, CT and Westchester County, NY.  Family Centers is a United Way, New Canaan Community Foundation and Community Fund of Darien partner agency that offers counseling and support programs for children, adults and families.  For information, call 203-869-4848 or visit www.familycenters.org.



14 Responses to “When Home Alone Is No Longer Safe”

  1. Susan McCain says:

    I’m wondering if I can print copies or email copies of your article to share with the families of my propective residents.

    Thank you,

    Susan McCain
    Community Manager
    Bluebird Estates
    an Independent Living Community of Holiday Retirement
    (413) 525-8600

  2. There is certainly a lot to find out about this subject. I love all the points you have made.

  3. Sweet site, super design, very clean and apply friendly.

  4. Hi! I’m at work surfing around your blog from my new apple iphone! Just wanted to say I love reading through your blog and look forward to all your posts! Keep up the fantastic work!

  5. whoah this blog is fantastic i love reading your posts. Keep up the great work! You know, many people are searching around for this information, you can aid them greatly.

  6. I wanted to post you one tiny word so as to thank you so much as before regarding the amazing opinions you have contributed on this page. It was simply unbelievably open-handed with people like you to allow unhampered precisely what a number of us might have distributed as an ebook in order to make some cash for their own end, especially seeing that you could possibly have done it if you decided. The good ideas additionally acted to be a easy way to be aware that most people have a similar passion similar to mine to know more with reference to this problem. I’m sure there are numerous more pleasant moments ahead for many who examine your site.

  7. Needed to put you the very little remark to finally thank you so much again for your personal gorgeous opinions you have documented on this website. This is so surprisingly generous of people like you to give unhampered exactly what numerous people could have distributed for an e-book to generate some cash for their own end, precisely given that you might well have tried it in case you wanted. Those points as well served to be a good way to fully grasp that the rest have a similar interest just as my personal own to grasp a good deal more pertaining to this condition. I’m certain there are many more fun periods in the future for people who read through your website.

  8. I together with my pals ended up reading the best helpful tips from your site and then suddenly got an awful feeling I never thanked the blog owner for those strategies. Most of the young boys became so happy to study them and now have unquestionably been using these things. Appreciation for actually being considerably thoughtful and then for getting such nice information most people are really desperate to be aware of. Our own honest apologies for not expressing appreciation to you sooner.

  9. kd shoes says:

    I definitely wanted to construct a small word in order to thank you for those unique secrets you are placing here. My incredibly long internet look up has at the end been rewarded with professional strategies to write about with my good friends. I would assume that many of us readers actually are unequivocally blessed to live in a wonderful community with many lovely individuals with insightful tips and hints. I feel very much blessed to have encountered your webpage and look forward to really more entertaining times reading here. Thanks a lot again for all the details.

  10. Thanks a lot for giving everyone remarkably pleasant possiblity to read in detail from here. It’s always very awesome and jam-packed with a great time for me personally and my office peers to search your website at minimum 3 times weekly to find out the new items you have got. Of course, I am just actually fascinated with the breathtaking pointers you give. Some two areas on this page are completely the finest I have ever had.

  11. I have recently started a web site, the information you offer on this site has helped me greatly. Thank you for all of your time & work.

  12. golden goose says:

    I needed to post you the very little remark in order to give many thanks again with the great techniques you have contributed on this page. This has been simply incredibly open-handed with people like you to deliver openly all that a few people would have offered as an e-book to earn some profit for themselves, even more so since you could have done it if you wanted. The principles also served as a easy way to fully grasp that someone else have the identical fervor like my own to understand very much more when it comes to this problem. I’m certain there are some more pleasurable periods up front for many who read carefully your site.

  13. I’m just writing to let you be aware of of the perfect experience my wife’s child enjoyed viewing your blog. She picked up so many things, which included what it’s like to have a great teaching character to have many more really easily know various hard to do topics. You really surpassed visitors’ expected results. I appreciate you for producing these interesting, trustworthy, edifying and also cool guidance on that topic to Lizeth.

  14. moncler says:

    I wanted to type a remark to appreciate you for those fantastic tips and tricks you are sharing on this site. My particularly long internet look up has finally been rewarded with reliable suggestions to talk about with my good friends. I ‘d declare that many of us visitors actually are undoubtedly fortunate to live in a fine website with so many perfect individuals with good tricks. I feel very blessed to have seen the site and look forward to really more fabulous minutes reading here. Thanks once again for a lot of things.

Leave a Reply