Sunday, May 13, 2012

Taking a Risk...thoughts on Aging in Place by Patrick Roden, PhD

No matter how steep the climb, it is not impossible!
Sometimes an aging person needs to be reassured that taking a risk is worth the cost.  I have always worried about the cost to my children if I were to make a bad choice.  Would the risk be worth the resulting problem?  That is what a post written by Patrick Roden over at Aging in Place did for me.    The story was called The Up-side Risk of Aging in Place.  Dr. Roden reminded me that life is a risk.  Young or old, we know that being alive and leaving our bed is risky. It always will be.

Why is this on my mind today?  Well, my daughter's mother-in-law, Darlene, was moved into her home on Friday to live out the remaining days of her life.  She is suffering from cancer and in hospice care. She is 84 years old .

But that is not the story. The story is about this beautiful woman that is blind, widowed for 35 years and independent.  Her son, now 50, is sharing his home with her because he was raised with an example of courage and risk taking on the up-side.

In Darlene's case she lived alone in the house her husband had just completed when he suffered a heart attack.  Her son lived 40 miles away and her daughter lives in the midwest.  When her blindness and a heart condition began to be a real problem and she could not shop anymore, she moved to a 55+ retirement community that provided meals.  She had her own apartment, continued to wash her own clothes and took care of her own daily needs.  He grandson sorted her pills each week.  She attended church, played bingo and sat at a dinner table with people she enjoyed. Her days were full because she ventured out as much as she could and took some risks.

When this final illness came to call, her children did not rush in and take control.  They talked with her in the company of her pastor and the hospitalist.  She was treated like an adult and given choices that they could all live with.  Even at this stage, in her son and daughter-in-laws home, she is taking a risk.  The children and grandchildren will all be better for having come together at this very difficult time.

My point here is that we set an example in every stage of our life.  The choices we make are reflected back on us in so many ways. Aging in place has it's risks and there are those that feel we should not ever put ourselves at risk by aging in place because we might fall or become ill in our own home.  The commonly held thought is that parents and children switch roles and the parent becomes the child.  I am here to say NO!  Please don't do that.  Adult old people may make some bad decisions or fall or even get a little lost in the city. But who among us does not do those things?  They are not children even though they may need your help.   They are adults doing what they have always done...taking risks and living.


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