Boomerangst: Turning Dilemmas Into Discoveries – Aging in Place
Need extra help, but not ready for assisted living? Here, some expert advice for aging in place.
Q. My mother is in her late 80s and her memory and health are failing. She lives in her house with a lovely man who is 92 (they both lost their spouses years ago) and they’ve been taking care of each other for the past five years. But things have gone downhill this year and my husband and I think neither of them is capable of living alone. My mother has wandered off and been gone for hours, unable to remember how to get home. Her partner has done the same thing. We’re very worried, plus we live in a different city that’s a five-hour drive away. We’ve been going back and forth and trying to help from a distance, but I still work full-time (I’m 59) and it’s exhausting. We know in our hearts the time has come for them to move into assisted living of some kind, but they refuse. We’re their only family in Canada. What should we do?
First determine the level of support they need and discuss it with them. The next step would be to approach their local health authority or continuing care organization to get recommendations on finding suitable candidates.
“Some people are very willing to move into assisted living. Others are not,” says Dr. Gutman. “If they’ve been living independently and they still want to do that then the best option is definitely a live-in housekeeper. A lot of people think it’s either my own place or a care facility, without thinking about the things that are in between.”
Dr. Gutman says people often know themselves when they can’t manage on their own. As for the safety concern of your mother and her partner getting lost, there may be some issues of memory loss but if it’s not too far advanced and they’ve got a live-in person he or she can also function as a companion, someone who can take them out together and keep an eye on them. Remember, for most of us independence is a cherished state of being.