Aging Parents–Older People: Moving for Better or for Worse-continued

continued from yesterday’s post…….

We know when people are mentally capable of making decisions affecting their life, they do much better when they make the decisions vs. when decisions are made for them.

The problem is, so often we–as adult children with aging parents–are busy, on fast-forward, think we know best, and act on those thoughts without thinking through the possible consequences: unhappy parents and their guilty, sad-feeling kids….a condition/situation that doesn’t go away.

3.  Riding with someone to a board meeting two days ago, “older dads” was a topic of conversation. Neither of us have fathers who are living but, it seems, both of our fathers aged well throughout their 80′s; both were accustomed to being in charge. After seeing the movie, “Driving Miss Daisy,” for example, my dad told me he would stop driving on his own, when the time came. And he did.

Her father had early dementia in his early 90′s. At that time she gently discussed whether or not he thought a different living situation would make sense. It was too soon for him, but the idea was planted. A few years later she again broached the subject. His response: “I don’t want to give up being the boss yet.”  That’s it, isn’t it? Pure and simple.

She took her cue and began looking for a suitable live-in caregiver. That way he would still feel like the boss.  But her dad lived in a small town and caregivers were few or nonexistent, a fact she discussed with him when he was able to understand. While not happy about it, he understood it had come to the point where he needed more care than he could manage alone at home and agreed on a nursing home. This was very difficult for his daughter but the only solution under the circumstances.  The good part: he was involved in the decision-making….something that can only be accomplished when an aging parent has the mental capacity.

So we move for many reasons to different living situations and environments. As with everything in life (but especially change), when we are involved in the decision-making–or initiate it, it’s easier. Moving is clearly change. It can be stimulating and help parents age well or it can be a medical necessity to prevent aging poorly. In the latter case the best we can do is look for that window of opportunity then take advantage of it to involve competent and somewhat competent parents in the decision-making process.