December 7, 2010
For the second time in six months, you've neglected to pay the electric bill. At age 83, you're starting to forget a few things around the house, and feel like you need a little extra help. You're afraid to tell your family, though, for fear you'll lose your independence. What do you say?
The first step here is to figure out what you can deal with yourself. It's essential to consider the tools you need to compensate for minor memory lapses and the like. If you're forgetting to pay bills, consider setting up automatic payment systems. If you're forgetting to take medication, purchase a device that will automatically remind you. If the issues you're having are limited to a few minor ones, you may be able to deal with them easily. If you are having problems with a broader range of issues, then you may need to bite the bullet and talk to the family. Before you do so, prepare.
Figure out what you think the key problems are, and the kind of help you need. If you go to the family with a generic "I can't cope!" then you may well find yourself in a nursing home. But if you go to them with a clear list of the areas in which you're having problems (paying bills, driving, heavy housework), then you are more likely to work out specific solutions with them. Try starting with "Susan, I like living here and it's very important to me to stay living independently like I am. But I've been having problems with these two things. I'm hoping you can help me figure out how to keep things straight with my money and my medications."
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