When older adults and their families begin looking for answers, they may find that the process and programs attached to older adults are complex and confusing. The column below will focus on some of the issues of the day when looking for resources and support for older adults.
My mother is almost 80 and very independent. I see that she is slowing down and has more trouble with everyday tasks. I know that her needs will increase as she gets older. How can I be of support to her without her feeling that I’m trying to take over her life?
How nice it is that you’re noticing the changes in your mother and want to be a support to her. Most older adults hate to admit we can’t do it all anymore but the truth of the matter is, it’s dangerous to climb ladders, clean out chimneys and hang holiday decorations from high places. You can be a good support by recognizing the little things you can do to help i.e., changing light bulbs, offering to move the couch, disposing of heavy, bulky trash, trimming a branch rubbing against the house. Your mother will be pleased to have the chore done but will also be pleased that you noticed and cared enough to do it!
Our children live in another city hours away from us. They have been insistent that we sell our home and move closer so they “can take care of us.” Although we’re older and retired, neither of us feels we need being taken care of. We don’t want to insult our children but aren’t ready to be taken care of. How should we respond?
It sounds as though your children are beginning to worry about you. They obviously feel it would be easier for them if you were closer. Have you as a couple and a family talked about where you want to live as you get older and some day may need some help? If not, this is a perfect opening to begin a family discussion about what you as a couple want, where you want to live and to what degree you’re going to depend on your children.
I am alone, never married and am worried about how to plan for my old age. I am physically able now but am retired and recognize at some point I will need someone to help me access services or act in my behalf. Who should I consider and what should I put in place?
It’s a good idea to think about someone to act on your behalf if you’re unable to make your own decisions. This can be a sibling, a relative or a good friend. It should be someone who is in good health, preferably younger than you and who will respect your wishes that you’ll have written down in a legal document called a Durable Power of Attorney and/or Advanced Directive for Healthcare Decisions. Be sure and talk with this person first, get their agreement, and give them a copy of these documents. If the person moves, keep in touch with a current address, e mail address and telephone number that you’ll put on your copies.
With our children grown and gone, our house is much too large but it’s home. We live in the country with some acreage as well. Eventually the upkeep and maintenance may be too much. At what point should we consider making the move and what type of housing should we look for?
Deciding when and where to move is a big decision that older adults think about often particularly when someone else must be hired to do the upkeep and regular maintenance. Some families work out arrangements with their family members to help to keep the property in the family; others live out of the area or are unable to help. Ultimately, the decision is yours where you live and how long. Some words of caution however. Moving is a big job and tiring both before and after. Don’t make moves lightly or often and have help.
Carol S. Heape, MSW, CMC is exective director/CEO of Elder Options, Inc., helping older adults and their families find solutions and honoring their wish to stay at home since 1988. For more information visit elderoptionsca.com.