Worrying takes an emotional and physical toll and can lead to serious medical issues. Unfortunately, just telling ourselves to chill out doesn’t stop the worry. And, when a loved one is aging and needs more help than they’re willing to accept, there is a real cause for concern.
Fortunately, you can increase your peace of mind. First, there are ways to be reassured that your loved one is safe, even when you’re not with them. Are they willing to wear a medical alert device? If so, there are many to choose from, and some include fall detection that allows the medical alert company to be notified in the event of a fall, even if the wearer doesn’t push a Help button.
If your loved one is resistant to a medical alert device, perhaps they will allow a daily check-in phone call. LollyCall makes an automated check-in phone call one or more times a day. This requires only a telephone and your loved one doesn’t have to wear a pendant or bracelet.
Still a no go? Many older people have systems with their neighbors that involve raising window blinds. If the blinds are up, the neighbor knows your loved one is okay. You can ask the neighbor to notify you if the blinds are not up. Or, if your loved one has a computer or an iPad, you can play games such as Words With Friends. If they stop playing the game, then you know to check on them.
It’s also important for you to get help. There are many services that can help you, and the book you are holding in your hands (or the web site you are browsing) is an amazing compilation of resources. Some examples? Meals on Wheels will deliver nutritious food to your loved one and notify you if they notice anything is astray. Store to Door is a service in Multnomah County that calls homebound seniors to get their grocery orders and then delivers the groceries the following day. There are senior loneliness lines that your loved one can call if they want someone to talk to, and there is a new service in Washington County, run by peer volunteers, who will call your loved one once a week to chat.
Finally, consider the Serenity Prayer: grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. I wanted my aging parents to accept the things I thought they should do, have the courage to do what I told them, and the wisdom to know that I was right. But the more I fought the reality of who they were and how they were choosing to live their lives, the harder things were. Ultimately, peace of mind is a delicate balance between your loved ones accepting your help and you accept that they are who they are and nothing will ever be perfect.
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