Senior Independence vs. Safety: A Common Family Conflict

Senior Independence vs. Safety: A Common Family Conflict

It’s not uncommon for families to have conflict over honoring senior independence vs. safety.

It’s a conflict that occurs for numerous families: seniors are adamant about wanting to age in place in their own home, while their relatives worry about their safety and well-being. And there’s an argument to be made in both scenarios. Seniors, specifically individuals who live alone, confront multiple risks: falls that could possibly result in significant injury, trouble in maintaining the lifestyle to which they’ve become accustomed as aging progresses, even a susceptibility to scam artists. Nonetheless, senior independence is one of the keys to self-worth. 

Identifying a balance that fits the requirements of both sides may be challenging, but there are several important factors to consider that can make a difference.

  • Let go of ageism. While there is credibility to worries over safety for older adults at home, particularly if they live alone, the other side of the equation is our perception of aging. Pioneer Network President/CEO Penny Cook explains, “Our negative perception helps marginalize older adults. They become ‘less than’ because that helps us cope and then we take on the parental model.” A shift in this reasoning lets us keep respect for seniors which they so appropriately deserve, as well as understand how essential it can be to allow them to continue being as independent as possible during the course of aging.
  • Know their rights. Legally, unless older adults are contending with cognitive challenges, they continue to have the authority to make decisions independently – no matter if the options made are not the ones we would have chosen for them. Attorney Barbara Cashman explains, “Even if I decide to give my money away, a judge could say that it’s my money and my choice what to do with it.”
  • Communicating is essential. As with any issue, calm, rational conversations are often the best remedy in diffusing stressful circumstances and reaching a resolution that works for everybody. Sit down with your parent and talk about your worries, but prepare yourself to listen with an open mind to his / her thoughts and feelings. Realize that a resolution will not be achieved in one single conversation; use an initial discussion as a beginning point, and agree to revisit the situation regularly to reassess.

Most importantly, take comfort in knowing there’s a viable alternative: the specialized in-home care services of Hired Hands Homecare. We’re able to help in a number of ways to improve safety, delivering family members peace of mind, while empowering your loved one to maintain independence, making their own choices and decisions in the comfort and familiarity of home. Contact us online or at (866) 940-4343 for an in-home assessment and to learn more about our award-winning Walnut Creek in-home care. Visit our Service Area page to learn if our home care services are available in your community. 

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