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Harry's Dad

I was interviewed by our local National Public Radio affiliate on Tuesday about long term care.  It was a terrific program with a leading long term care reform advocate, Steven Moses and a local insurance broker on the panel with me.  

After the program, as we were leaving the studio, I was stopped by a gentleman named Harry who was visiting the station and listened to the show in the waiting room. Harry told me that he was becoming concerned about his ninety year old father, who lives two counties away.  His dad had always been fiercely independent, living alone and still driving, but recently had become noticeably frail and was not allowing anyone into his home.  When he visited Harry for the holidays, he noticed that his dad, who had always been fastidiously clean, hadn't changed his shirt or showered during the entire three day visit. He is worried about bringing the issue up, since his dad had stopped talking with Harry's sister after she repeatedly brought her concerns up to their dad.   

I told Harry that it seemed he had a few choices.  First, it would be great to be able to have his dad meet with a geriatric care manager for an evaluation and that Harry should consider trying to raise his concerns with his dad's doctor. Most important of all is to make sure that his dad knew that any concern Harry exhibited was not an attempt to take away his independence, rather to try and partner with his dad to do everything they could together to ensure his independence and safety.  If every conversation he had with his dad was about how he needed to stop driving and stop living alone, he could never gain his dad's trust and see what is really going on in his life.

I think many times when we are concerned about our loved one's safety, they already know the issues, but are afraid that the only solution their kids will come up with is nursing home care.  I know that it is not always possible to do so, and the frustration can be quite intense, but it is better to try and partner with your parent than to parent your parent. 

Share your successful tips for partnering with your loved one


Gary Barg

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