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My grandmother refuses to move out of her home. She lives in a bad area of town and I'm concerned about her safety. What can I do?


Question:  I have a problem with my 90-year-old grandmother. She refuses to move out of her home, which she owns. My mother, brother and I have suggested that she move in with my mother but she refuses. I am concerned because her neighborhood is in a bad area of town. Recently someone tried to break in on her during the day. What can I do? 

Dr. Amy:  I understand your concern for your grandmother's safety.  However, at the end of the day, if she is mentally competent, you can encourage her to move but can't force her to move. Have you tried talking to your grandmother about your feelings? Sometimes, people may be willing to do something they don't want to do in order to be helpful to their loved ones. In other words, while your grandmother doesn't want to move, she may be willing to think about this if she understands the emotional impact her living alone is having on the family. On the other hand, she may not change her mind. And if this is the case, I wonder if you would feel less worried if there were more people coming and going during the day. Perhaps you could arrange for home care to come each day to help with chores and meals. That way, your grandmother wouldn't be alone so much. At the same time, perhaps you can arrange for an alarm system or emergency response system to be installed. These can be reasonably priced and could provide a degree of comfort.

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