It’s the holidays. That means that adult children are home to see parents they haven’t seen for a while. Sometimes they are surprised at how frail or old mom or dad is looking. Social worker Mark Harvey of Washington’s DSHS says, “Adult Children worry about their parents because they want them to be OK. To be safe. And for some, safe is another word for love.”
So then they call the Senior Center. They want to make sure mom or dad is taken care of before they head home.
They say things like, “She won’t move out of that big house with so much yard to care for.” “She won’t move in with me or move to an assisted living.” “She won’t quit driving.” “She won’t leave the house.” Then finally an exasperated “She’s so stubborn!”
In other words, she’s so stubborn because she won’t do what her children want.
We all want the best for our parents. But we can’t cocoon them anymore than we can protect our children from everything.
That said, mom might be scared and doesn’t know what to do or what kind of help is out there. Maybe she doesn’t want to burden you. You’ve been her life for a long time so she worries about you too.
Help is only help if it helps and unwanted help doesn’t. So be prepared to listen, really listen to what she wants. Negotiate with her how she can be safer and put your mind at ease. Help her make the decisions but remember it’s her life and her decision.
Talk to a doctor or social worker if you are seeing memory problems that would prevent her from making a rational decision. Remember people don’t get to be that age without some life skills.
Lisa Yeager, Director of the Sno-Valley Senior Center, 4610 Stephens, Carnation, WA 98014, 425-333-4152 www.snovalleysenior.org