My father loves to drive, but he’s 93 with significant short-term memory loss and dementia. He’s never had an accident but he’s gone through some red lights and we worry about him. My mother always goes along with him, to be safe.
Falls prevention is an essential consideration for seniors and represents one of the most important steps we can take when helping elders ‘age in place.’ As we grow older our eyesight, balance, and reaction time may diminish gradually. Our bones become more brittle and injuries take longer to heal. Sometimes, just making a few simple changes around the home can help prevent a fall.
A health care proxy is a type of advance directive, also known as a living will. It is a legal document prepared in advance to ensure that your caregivers understand your wishes about your care. A health care proxy names the person you have chosen to express your health care wishes and empowers that person with medical power of attorney. This person (or ‘proxy’) is recognized under Massachusetts law as the person who can speak for you concerning health care decisions if your doctor determines that you are no longer able to make or communicate health care decisions.
When all potential treatments have been exhausted and a person decides it is time to let nature take its course, hospice care provides pain management and emotional support. Hospice focuses on palliative care—care aimed specifically on making patients as comfortable as possible. Hospice care often provides patients with peace of mind, armed with the knowledge that their loved ones are not alone in the struggle to accept death and grieve the loss. That simple yet vital knowledge can make their last days much easier and offer immense emotional relief.
Happily—as has been proven throughout our experience with clients—HouseWorks can attest that our aging-in-place focused home care services don’t result in a loss of independence. On the contrary, our home care assistance retains and reinforces genuine independence by allowing clients to feel safe, secure, well cared-for, and free from anxiety. Only then can they focus on the things that truly give them pleasure and provide their lives with a sense of fulfillment. Families can breathe more easily knowing their loved ones have home care assistance without sacrificing independence.
Acknowledging that it may be time to get home care assistance can be daunting, yet this is one of the most important conversations you may have with a parent. Honestly assessing your own capacity as a caregiver takes courage, but is critical to everyone concerned. Regardless of how much you love your parents or how much energy you have, there may come a time when it gets to be too much. You may find you need support sooner rather than later, so HouseWorks recommends that clients begin the conversation before a crisis arises—while everyone involved can fully participate.
With an elderly parent it can be hard to know where to begin, especially when the stakes are high and time is short. That said, there are many sources of information and advice available for seniors and their families in Greater Boston.
Words to the Wise
Get help from the start – from family, friends, and professionals. Resist the impulse to do it all yourself.
Never rely on a single source of information or advice when making eldercare decisions.
Expect at least one false start. Don’t rush to fix the problem.