As we get older, we may find ourselves unable to take care of everything
the way we used to. It might be harder to pull the trash can back and
forth from the curb on trash day. It might be harder to grasp the cooking
utensils or to stand up long enough to prepare our favorite meal. We don’t
want to mention it, but sometimes it becomes harder to remember if we
took our medicine or even how much of each medicine we were supposed to take.
Why don’t we want to mention to our adult children or to our friends
that we are having challenges with performing some of these day-to-day
activities? Many times we don’t want to acknowledge the need for
help because it feels like the first step down the slippery slope of dependency.
If we let someone know that we can’t perform one activity, will
they jump to the conclusion that we can’t perform others and therefore
shouldn’t live independently in our homes any longer? Will they
try to take control of our lives and make all of our decisions for us?
The fear of losing control over the decisions that impact our lives is
a real fear. It is such an overwhelming fear that it can sometimes lead
us to ignore limitations that are creating a real risk to our health,
safety and general well-being. We are not going to let what happened to
“Harry” happen to us. Poor Harry, one day he couldn’t
balance his checkbook and the next thing anyone knew, he was living in
the nursing home with no say over anything regarding his life any longer.
Whether this story about “Harry” is actually true or merely
a fear fueled exaggeration of the facts doesn’t matter; when our
independence is threatened, better to give no one an excuse to get a foot
in the door than to take the chance that we will end up like Harry.
Fear doesn’t have to make us accept living with limitations that
are compromising the quality of our lives. There are lots of resources
available to help keep us safe in our homes. So, asking for help doesn’t
have to feel like the first step towards the end of independent life as
we know it, but can be the first step towards safely preserving and prolonging
the independence we value. Over the next few weeks, we will explore some
of the creative resources that are now available to help you continue
to live safely in your own home.