[Safety vs. Independence] For Elderly Parents posted on: 10-11-2018

Depressed senior man sitting with female carer

Learn how to strike a balance between safety and independence for seniors

It’s a conflict that arises for numerous families: older adults adamantly like to age in place in their own homes, while their loved ones worry about their well-being. And there’s an argument to be made in both cases. Seniors, especially individuals who live alone, deal with many different risks: falls that may lead to serious injury, difficulty in sustaining the lifestyle to which they’ve become accustomed as aging progresses, even a susceptibility to scam artists. Yet independence is paramount to self-worth, irrespective of age.

Striking a balance that meets the needs of both sides is often difficult, but there are several critical factors to bear in mind that can help.

  • Let go of ageism. Although there is undoubtedly validity to fears over safety for seniors in the home, particularly 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 thinking lets us keep respect for seniors which they so rightly deserve, and to know how essential it is in order for them to continue being as independent as possible during aging.
  • Know their rights. Legally, unless seniors are contending with intellectual issues, they continue to have the legal right 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.”
  • Communicating is key. As with every disagreement, calm, sensible discussions are the best remedy in calming tough circumstances and reaching an answer that actually works for the whole family. Sit down with your senior loved one and clarify your worries, but prepare yourself to listen with an open mind to his / her opinions and views. Realize that a resolution may not be reached in one discussion; use an initial discussion as a launching point, and agree to revisit the matter occasionally to reevaluate.

Most especially, recognize there is a viable option: the knowledgeable in-home care services of North River Home Care. We are able to help in many different ways to increase well-being, offering family members peace of mind, while empowering seniors to maintain independence, making their own choices and decisions in the comfort and familiarity of home. Give us a call at 781.659.1366 for an in-home consultation for more information.