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Hard topics: When Mom or Dad can no longer live alone

It's likely one of the most heart-wrenching decision adult children will ever have to make — stepping in when an elderly parent is no longer safe while living alone. The situation can be exacerbated if the elderly person refuses to entertain the idea of moving to an assisted living center or other supervised accommodations. Simply bringing up the topic ensures eruptions of distress, anger and agitation will ensue.

Another obstacle to a parental relocation could be siblings who disagree with the consensus that Mom or Dad can no longer continue living alone. Calling a family meeting prior to addressing the matter with your parent gives every sibling a chance to voice an opinion and attempt to reach accord. Out-of-towners can participate via Skype or a conference call.

Sometimes, it takes a crisis involving elderly parents for their resolve to continue living independently at home to waver. An incident involving 911 emergency services, e.g., a bad fall or a close call with an intruder, may force them to realize how perilous their situations actually are.

Of course, no loving sons or daughters ever want their parents to get hurt or threatened. That's one reason it's wise to address this issue with your parents early, before disease or disability make it a hot button. Discussing the elder care options that are available allows the subject to be broached in a non-confrontational manner. Mom or Dad can express preferences before there ever is a need.

That conversation often segues into whom the parents would prefer to hold their powers of attorney in medical and legal matters if they become incapacitated. Ideally, this leads to legal documents being drawn up and executed while the parents are unquestionably of sound mind.

In the worst-case scenario, an elderly parent's disease or dementia has advanced too far for them to continue to make the decisions regarding their safety. Adult children can take legal steps to be put in charge of their parent's welfare. Regardless, it's vital to acknowledge that the elderly have rights to their own self-determination, unless and until a court rules otherwise.

Source: A Place for Mom, "Moving Elderly Parents: Convincing Mom & Dad," accessed April 28, 2017

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