As You Age, Asking For Help Doesn’t Have to Mean the End of Your Independence
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.