When is it time to have that “conversation” with your parents about their aging in place decisions? Mom is in her early eighties, and dad, who is two years older with a medical condition, needs more and more care that your mom is willing to do but doesn’t have the vigor she once did. They live in the same home they’ve been in for 35 years, and are quite happy there. What if, heaven forbid, something were to happen to her, a fall, a heart attack or something else critical and she couldn’t get to your dad when he needed her? And what if he didn’t know what had happened to her?
We want to respect our parents, and not be intrusive, but sometimes we need to guide them in their aging in place decisions. It would help to be able to remotely see or even just find out if things were okay at the homeplace. In today’s world of technology, there are now available all kinds of gadgets and devices to allow us to monitor everything from our parent’s blood pressure to what time they get up and go to the bathroom each night. Motion detectors, fall detectors and window and door alerts are built into a system to help us feel at peace as well. We can stay connected to them with a simple, computerized method and have a virtual dinner with our parent – visually – even if we’re 1000 miles away with a product called VitalLink.
To do this type of monitoring, however, means a change of lifestyle, or so your parents may feel. To be told to wear a watch, necklace or belt clip or to have to check in daily with a video computer may not be something that an eighty year old wants. The reality is that while there is a possibility of death of the parent while we aren’t watching, the greater concern is that they will suffer from a debilitating accident that will rob them of their independence. A fall in an older person has greater potential to put that person in a wheelchair because of more brittle bones. A heart attack or stroke can be treated and rehabilitated much better when caught within a short time of occurring.
So have that conversation with your parents, of what you can do to help them with their aging in place decisions. With a little time and effort, you can remove all those hazardous slip rugs, install hand rails in the bathrooms, put nightlights in the hallway, bath and kitchen and prepare their home for aging in place. This would be in addition to purchasing a home monitoring system if you can get them to agree to it. By insuring that help is just the push of a button away, and that you can sleep better at night, plus the promise of them staying in their own home for as long as possible, it makes sense for both of you. You’ll be glad you did.
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