From Approved Senior Network
Being concerned about an aging family member is normal. In fact, if you weren’t really concerned about an elderly loved one, that wouldn’t quite be natural. Having concerns about their safety, whether it’s at home, when behind the wheel, or if they’re going out to the park, to visit with friends, or continuing with certain activities you deem unnecessary or risky, it’s easy to become focused on making sure they stay safe.
What you need to understand is that elderly individual has the right to determine the course of his or her life. What does that mean?
It means you have to take their concerns, desires, or preferences into account when discussing safety issues, their ability to drive, and even their desire to do certain things. If you begin stepping over those boundaries and dictating what they can or can’t do, what they should avoid, or forcing them to stop driving, even if they are adamant in their safety when behind the wheel, it can cause a great deal of harm to the relationship.
It can also have negative consequences for the senior’s self-esteem and quality of life.
What can you do in this type of situation?
You know your father should stop driving. You know in your heart he should stop trying to do work around the house. He’s out there in 90° weather, working on the roof, doing yardwork, and even when winter rolls around he’s out there shoveling snow constantly, every time the flakes begin to hit the walkways or driveway.
At 83 years of age, you know full well that is not safe for him. But to him, it may very well be just what he needs to feel productive and as though his life still has meaning.
There are steps you can take in a healthy and reasonable manner to keep him safer. First, sit down and have a conversation with him about your concerns. He may not agree with everything or even anything you say, at least not right away.
But if you talk to him as a peer, as someone who has rights to be independent and self-sufficient, and you respect him, that will show through. He may not want to talk about it at that time, but if those concerns affect him in any way, he’ll reach out to you when he’s ready.
When he is, talk to him about relying on an experienced home care aide who may be able to offer him at least some physical support and help in some of those situations. He may also realize it’s time to think about other solutions, such as hiring somebody to clear the snow in the winter, take care of the yard during summer, and even repair the roof.