Seniors: Making the Hard Decisions

Mar 4th, 2010 | By | Category: Senior Moments Blog

Most seniors these days are in one of two camps.  Either we are facing the variety of tough struggles in dealing with our own parents and their welfare, living accommodations, and safety or we are facing some of the decisions which are rearing their presence and importance in our own lives. In some cases, it can be that we are faced with both simultaneously.

During the period post 70, seniors find themselves dealing with increased demands for coping with care issues.  It is not unusual for persons in their 70’s, and some in their 80’s, to find themselves working out care taking issues for their parents. The phenomenon of increasing longevity has presented a whole series of simultaneous issues affecting both parent and child. 

In our family, we are blessed with a parent from either side who is now past 90.  While, for the most part health is good and care is excellent, there are creeping signs of deterioration.  Some have to do with memory or dementia, others with mobility, others with the encroachment of unknown maladies that are beginning to prepare us for whatever comes next. 

On my inlaw side there are four daughters who have committed themselves to conscientious caring and compassionate availability to their father and his spouse.  The clear consensus is to have them live, for so long as is possible, in their own home.  So far, so good!  Driving still continues to be practiced by the 94 year old father.  His independence (stubbornness?) has so far prevailed.   We followed him the  other day through suburban streets and he did very well.  However, the time is coming. 

He has been in such remarkable health all his life that any indication of a health issue is quite irritating to him.  However, he is facing the prospect of end of life with a remarkable attitude.  His response to daily queries of “how are you?” are given the response “I’m still hanging around.” 

Within the next several months (longer or shorter?) it is very possible that the harder decisions will need to be faced,  There will come a point when pride and independence will need to be confronted by reality.  That is never easy.  Depending on the health issues, either home care or the possibility of hospice care, may need to be resolved.  While we are fortunate to have  a medical professional in the family, these issues will still emerge.  Preparing everyone to be ready for the discussion and decision(s) is essential. 

Pressing the issues gently and with all on the same  page offers both a dignified and sensitive response to the  hard task of making hard choices.  Stay reasonable.  Do not cave in to impractical approaches.  Think through what is best for all, the patient, spouse, rest of the family. Be ready to offer support to the solution finally agreed upon.  Do not allow self centered behavior to block the need to come to a reasonable outcome. 

These decisions, which are characterized by facing death, are the most difficult families are required to make.  Making them with strength, abundant affection, and caring camaraderie will enable the process to be easier for and on everyone.

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