Safety vs. Independence
You are probably reading because Mom or Dad wants to stay in their home. And they feel they are doing well. But, you are concerned. You have seen some signs lately and you feel it is time to do something. You think that it’s only a matter of time before something happens. You want to keep your loved ones safe. What do you do?
100 years ago this wouldn’t be a problem. The elderly moved in with their family members who looked after them. Today, families are scattered and the elderly are left to age alone. In many cases, they wouldn’t have it any other way. Today’s seniors are more independent than ever and don’t want to adjust their lifestyle to fit into their family members’ routine. Social scientists even have a name for this. It’s called “intimacy at a distance”. The remaining options seem to be for your loved one to go into independent living, assisted living or a nursing home so there will be someone there to look out for them.
There are wonderful facilities in our area, (and some not so wonderful). Many get top ratings for safety and care. But the complaint we hear over and over from the seniors living there is, “It just isn’t home”. To them, giving up their home means giving up the life they have built for themselves over the years. Even in an independent living situation, there is more structure and supervision than they’ve experienced since they were a child. While reassuring to their children this feels like a cage to many seniors. While the children’s goal for their loved ones is ‘caring’, this doesn’t come close to ‘living’ to your loved one. They expect and want more from life than safety.
You want your loved ones to be safe. Who hasn’t heard the story of the elderly person who fell and laid helpless in their home for hours until found? But your loved ones don’t want a life whose primary goal is safety. They want to be able to live with some independence and dignity. So, how to resolve this dilemma?
First, there are many products out there to help seniors be safe in their own home. Fall and medical alert technology, home activity sensors, step in shower modifications, elevated toilet seats, senior-friendly cell phones, and others are valuable tools to allow your loved one to age at home.
Seniors Helping Seniors of North and East Raleigh is another valuable ally to help keep your loved ones safe while they enjoy life on their terms. Here are some of the services we can provide:
- Perform a safety assessment of the home
- Remediate many of the identified safety issues. For example, install hand rails in baths, remove throw rugs, replace light bulbs, shovel sidewalks, cook meals.
- Check in on a regular basis. We make sure everything is ok, food is being eaten, medication is being taken, heat or air conditioning is working, etc.
You are on the right track—a little help now goes a long way in staying independent while staying safe. Let Seniors Helping Seniors of North and East Raleigh partner with you in making it happen.
Kathy is a Certified Dementia Practitioner (CDP) who is active in several other senior related organizations, including Alzheimer’s State Champion program, Friends of the Northern Wake Senior Center board member, Ambassador for the Rolesville Chamber of Commerce, Aging Life Care Association (ALCA), Health Affairs Round Table (HART), and Senior Information Networking Group (SING).