Light of Gray

Elder Care Expertise

On Dependency

lifesaverAs our parents become less able, we need to become creative in finding ways to help them. The first response to any kind of enabling technology is usually flat-out rejection. “I don’t need that!” “I’m not that sick!” “I’m not that old!” “What will other people think?” “I can’t afford that!”

This is completely natural. Most people hate change (except for babies, who cry out for it). So many potentially helpful devices frighten people; they’re afraid of developing “a dependency.” And no one wants to be thought of as “old.” There are strategies for dealing with these fears you may find effective.

Cite Meaningful Examples

I knew a woman who was strong and highly independent well into her eighties. A widow for years, she lived on her own with an adult son who had some developmental issues of his own. She had able children with families and grandchildren, a wonderful circle of friends with an active social life, and she retained her cognitive capabilities through the end of her life. At home after a visit from her daughter’s family, she was walking around her backyard in the late afternoon when she tripped and fell. She broke her leg and could not get up. Her screams for help brought neighbors to her aid. She was taken to the hospital for a lengthy interval followed by rehabilitation in a skilled nursing facility.

When she got back home, this smart lady got an alert pendant system. So did all of her girlfriends. Because once an able person suffers an emergency like this, it really hits home. Before her accident, everyone thought of these devices as something laughable. “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” Ha ha! That only happens to other people. When it happens to someone close to you, a new perspective coalesces.

Minimize the Impact

With a little research, more palatable solutions to certain problems may be found. In many cases, the appearance of devices are off-putting to those who could derive their benefits. There are often smaller, more discreet and appealing versions available. While the alternatives may cost a little more, the likelihood that the item will actually be put to use is higher, so the added expense might well be worth it. And in the case of certain systems, like blood glucose monitors for diabetics, Medicare covers, or at least helps to defray a lot of the cost.

At the basis of most resistance is the fear of lost independence. No one wants to be “handicapped” or perceived as disabled, particularly when they’ve enjoyed being able and independent for most of their lives. The beauty of many of these devices is they RESTORE independence. By implementing some of the available tools, older folks can stay in their homes and take care of themselves longer, and more safely. Understanding this concept of “extending independence” will encourage your loved ones to be more accepting of these ideas. And you’ll have more peace of mind, knowing that your folks are struggling less, and hopefully maintaining contact with the outside world should they suffer an accident out of range of a phone or helping ears.

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