Down-Sizing a Senior

Aging in Place Works Until it Doesn’t


Oregon Public Broadcasting’s morning show Think Out Loud had A guest from AARP who told a personal story of having to move her mother out of the family home she promised to keep her in. It was heart-wrenching to listen and the anguish was still palpable in her voice.

Listen: Down-sizing a Senior

Her story reminds us that aging-in-place is preferred—but for some it becomes untenable.

Sensitivity to Telling Mom She Can’t Stay Home Alone Anymore

A common cry for help from an adult daughter living in Brazoria, Texas, reaches out for advice:

Mom is 82 and slipping in memory…she has recently been recommended to benefit from “assisted living”. I DON’T need ideas on how to keep her in her own home. We have exhausted ourselves providing the company of ourselves which include her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, life-support lines, meals, cleaning and shopping, medical appointments, writing her bills, etc. In-home-health or assisted living is the next best thing…but it won’t come without breaking my heart and hers. Please don’t suggest she come live with one of us…she did when the hurricane-displaced her and she was miserable. I need suggestions how to be kind, but firm that she needs help…more than we can provide with her medical needs at this time of her life. She has CHF and COPD and is down to 70 + lbs. She has a nurse coming weekly and physical therapists, and occupational therapists, too. What do you say?? Thank you for listening…

K.C. from Brownsville, Texas, provided this sage advice

You just answered your own question. You–with all the love– tell her you are not able to provide the help she needs for her health issues. You will be there always and you love her and this is the best option for everybody. My Mom was 68 lbs when she died. She had COPD, renal failure, and congestive heart failure and has all the agencies coming in to take care of her. I lived down the street and could go there several times a day and we had a lady come in daily for 5 hours that washed and cooked breakfast and lunch. I told her I loved her more than anything and we would have to make some changes soon. My wonderful Lord would answer my prayers and took her home before I had to make the change. The elderly have a fear of being alone.

Remember the role reverses you become the parent and they become like children. Pray for patience and enjoy every moment you have with her and yes your heart will break when she is gone.


Aging in Place is Not So Easy

Howard Gleckman has written a thought-provoking piece; Aging in Place is Not so Easy. His premise is that factors having to do with social issues, more so than medical concerns, are often the barriers to aging in place:

-Lack of qualified caregivers

-Lack of services such as basic transportation

-Lack of housing or funds for repairs

-Lack of social networks and isolation

Gleckman’s solutions include more flexible Medicaid programs (they pay for NH, but limited benefits for home care) and an emphasis on long-term care insurance which will provide financial resources to care for loved ones. His conclusion that we can’t keep everyone home (i.e. those with severe dementia) is realistic; but postponing institutionalization of the elderly, by even months or years, is a goal worthy of our best efforts.

Listen: Convincing an Aging Mother to Take a Hard Step

Resource when the time comes:

Find a Nursing Home 

Consumer Reports on How to Choose an Assisted-Living Facility

Choosing a Long Term Care Setting: Facility Types/Review Choices (Ore., check your state)