October 5, 2018

Depressed senior man sitting with female carer

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

It’s a disagreement that emerges for numerous St. Louis area families: seniors adamantly like to age in place at home, while their family members are worried about their basic safety. And there’s an argument to be made in both instances. Older adults, especially individuals who live alone, confront a variety of dangers: falls which can bring about significant injury, difficulty in sustaining the lifestyle to which they’ve become accustomed as aging progresses, even a vulnerability to fraud artists. Yet independence is vital to self-worth, irrespective of age.

Striking a balance that suits the needs of both sides can be difficult, but there are important factors to keep in mind which will help.

  • Let go of ageism. Though there is certainly legitimacy to concerns over safety for seniors at home, especially 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 change in this reasoning allows us to maintain the respect for seniors that they so appropriately deserve, as well as know how important it can be in order for them to remain as independent as possible throughout aging.
  • Know their rights. Legally, unless older adults are struggling with cognitive challenges, they continue to have the legal right to make decisions independently – no matter if the choices made are not the ones we might have chosen 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.”
  • Dialogue is crucial. As with any conflict, calm, rational discussions are the best remedy in calming stressful circumstances and arriving at a resolution that really works for everybody. Sit down with your parent and explain your concerns, but be ready to listen with an open mind to his or her opinions and feelings. Take into account that a resolution might not be arrived at in one conversation; use a preliminary conversation as a starting point, and agree to revisit the issue occasionally to reassess.

Most especially, recognize there’s a reasonable alternative to help seniors at home: the professional St. Louis area in-home care services of Continuum. Our caregivers are able to assist in an assortment of ways to enhance well-being, offering members of the family peace of mind, while empowering your loved one to maintain independence, making his or her own choices and decisions in the comfort and familiarity of home. Contact us online or call us at (314) 863-9912 or (636) 861-3336 for an in-home assessment and to learn more about how we provide the kind of services for senior care St. Louis families trust the most.