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Navigating the senior years

Ask the experts


July 26, 2012
My friends and I have shared our concerns about our elderly parents and were comforted knowing we are not alone in these regards. My friends and I are hoping you might be able to offer some additional information regarding our questions.

Q. My 75-year-old father is terrified about having to someday go into a nursing home. What can he do proactively to extend his time at home?

A. This is a complex question and depends a great deal on the health condition of your father. However, in general, ensuring your father stays active physically, mentally and socially will help him maintain his independence as long as possible. Having the regular assistance of a professional caregiver can ensure he is remaining active.

Q. My father is currently living in an assisted living facility and can no longer drive. All my siblings work and the van service is not always convenient. I feel trapped, what should I do?

A. It is natural to feel trapped when mobility becomes limited. Thankfully there are services available through companies. They provide caregivers who will drive you wherever you need to go whether it is to church, a friend's house, a social outing or any appointments you may have.

Q. My 86-year-old mother lives in an independent living facility that offers a continuum of care. She needs more help but doesn't want to go into the personal care area of the facility. How can I help her?

A. There are companies that provide supplemental one-on-one assistance in a continuing care facility to enable an individual to remain safely at their current level of care.

In the case of your mom, some extra help from an experienced caregiver with activities like bathing, meals and activities could significantly extend her time in the independent living area of the facility.

Q. I just attended the funeral of my 84-year-old neighbor. His wife was very dependent on him and I am concerned about how she is going to manage without him. What can I do as a concerned friend and neighbor?

A. Many people are not aware of personal and companion care companies who specialize in providing non-medical, in-home assistance to seniors. They can assist with cooking, transportation, light housekeeping, laundry and more. At times like these, most families would appreciate you making them aware of these services as an option as they consider what is best for their loved one.

Karen Adair is a community relations manager at Senior Helpers in Grosse Pointe. She has been working with seniors for many years and educating communities on a program specializing in Alzheimer's and dementia, called the Gem program. She volunteers with the Alzheimer's Association, is a member of Seniors Coordinating Aging Network and facilitates Grosse Pointe Area Senior Services Networking Group as well as Macomb Healthcare providers.

The Family Center, a 501(c) (3), non-profit organization, serves as the community's centralized hub for information, resources and referral for families and professionals.

To view more Ask The Experts articles, visit familycenterweb.org.

E-mail questions to

info@familycenterweb.org. To volunteer or contribute, visit family

centerweb.org or call (313) 432-3832 or write to 20090 Morningside Drive, Grosse Pointe Woods, MI 48236.

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