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Meet my in-laws, Barbara and Joe of Winnemucca, Nevada. Barbara has a hard time getting out of the chair and an even harder time walking. More and more she stays in her pajamas all day long so she won’t have to go all the way down the treacherous stairs to do the laundry. She has macular degeneration and arthritis. Joe has pretty severe dementia. He gets dizzy all the time. He can’t drive anymore. Barbara gave up driving many years ago. Their closest relatives, a son and daughter-in-law, are an hour away.
We’re all agreed—Barbara and Joe’s children, their doctor, even their neighbors—Barbara and Joe are a danger to themselves and need more care. Their children once picked out a lovely apartment in the retirement/assisted living assisted living where I work, and we know Barbara and Joe would enjoy it if they’d just give it a chance. But Barbara and Joe do not want to come. They want to stay in their own home—the one they’ve lived in for 46 years. They’re just fine, they tell everyone. They can take care of themselves—even with dementia, high blood pressure, macular degeneration, arthritis, and heaven-only-knows what else that we don’t know about (they’re pretty good at hiding things). Can they live alone? Should they live alone? Or, should we force them to move?
That depends on a lot of things. Do they have family members who can stay with them 24-hours a day? Can caregivers be hired who can stay with them 24/7? Can the family afford for them to keep their house and pay caregivers also? Could they be declared incompetent?
There are many families just like us--families with aging family members who won’t do what is best for them. It’s a catch-22 situation. We can’t “win” and they can’t “win.” Barbara and Joe are “just fine.” So, we do everything we can, and in the mean time we wait for something to happen and at the same time pray that it won’t. We wait for “the fall” (I’m sure you know what I mean).
In the end, they are still adults, and we are still their children. So, we wait and we hope.
This article was submitted by Ginny Echevarria, Marketing Director, Highland Cove Retirement and Assisted Living. She can be reached at 801-272-8226.