lies work through conversations theyhave been avoiding, says Signe Swanson, AHS’s director of Integrated CaseManagement, Seniors Health. “It may bethe first time they have an opportunityto tell their loved ones what they’re soconcerned about.” In Alberta, anyonecan request a home care assessment forsomeone they know, although seniorshave a right to decline the offer.
While children can play a huge role inopening the care conversation, uncovering options and talking through scenarios, they cannot assume the decisions aretheirs to make, says Cheryl Knight, executive director of Seniors Health for AHS.When aging parents are able to maketheir own decisions, children need tohonour that, even if they feel their parentsare at risk. And that’s very difficult.
On the other hand, she adds, “as aparent, it’s not fair if you choose to live atrisk and then blame your daughter if youfall. So we need to talk honestly aboutthat.” Setting up “what if” scenarios cantake the edge off the conversation, sheadds. “Rather than saying, ‘When thecar gets stuck in the snow, don’t expectme to come,’ we can ask, ‘What if thepower goes off in a blizzard and the cargets stuck in the driveway?’ It needs tobe respectful dialogue, rather than onetalking down to the other.”
When seniors lose some of their physical or cognitive abilities, the burden ofchoosing how and where they live oftenshifts to the next generation. Vicky VanAndel knows all too well the rifts thatcan result as siblings weigh in withdiffering opinions.
“There are 11 children in our family,and everybody has ideas about whatMom needs,” Van Andel says. Her92-year-old mother recently moved fromanother daughter’s care to a continuingcare centre, but not everyone agreedwith the shift, which caused friction.
Where to live is just one aspect of
the puzzle. Home care, finances
and help from family and friends
are all considerations.