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Seniors in Transition Will Benefit From a Little Extra Help

Middle-aged daughter talking to her mother about sensitive issues.
Many seniors are in a transition situation. They are still able to do much for themselves, but they need a little extra help to remain at home and independent.

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Don’t force assistance on a senior loved one who has been an independent soul, but gently let him or her know that you’re there to help. A professional caregiver might be the best option for a senior who doesn’t want to impose on families for help.

Q. My 82-year-old mother-in-law still lives alone and does quite well. However she really needs some help with her house and errands. She once owned a business and is still so independent. She loves company, but gets really upset when we family members try to help. What can we do?

Many seniors like your mother-in-law are in a transition situation. They are still able to do much for themselves, but they need a little extra help to remain at home and independent. And for those seniors, particularly individuals who have been independent all of their lives, accepting help can be an uncomfortable change. The local Home Instead® office sees many seniors who are resistant to help, either from their family members or professional caregivers. Some view accepting help as the first step to becoming dependent on others.

It’s obvious your mother-in-law is accustomed to doing things for herself. And if she’s like most seniors, she fears being unable to stay at home. Nearly 90 percent of seniors surveyed in a Home Instead poll said they are very or somewhat likely to remain at home.

First, don’t try to force your mother-in-law into accepting help, either from you and other family members or anyone else. Instead, gently remind her that you’re looking out only for her best interests. Let her know that the entire family wants her to remain at home too.

Then point out that the best way for her to stay at home is to accept help from you or others. Most seniors eventually will see the truth in your words. Discuss with your mother-in-law whether she would be more comfortable with a family caregiver or a professional caregiver who could provide her a few hours of assistance a week. Because your mother-in-law was in business for herself and is accustomed to employees, she might actually be better suited to having a professional caregiver. That would allow her to feel more in control of the situation.

The local Home Instead office works to match its CAREGiversSM with older adults of similar interests and experiences. CAREGivers are screened, bonded and insured and trained to help with a variety of non-medical tasks around a senior’s home such as meal preparation, light housekeeping, medication reminders, transportation, errands and shopping.

Last revised: December 15, 2011

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