Ask Kari: My elderly mother struggles living on her own — how can I support her?

Dear Kari,

My mother is 78 years old and lives on her own but is struggling. I talk with her daily, but I can see that she would do better in a more supportive setting like a senior apartment or an assisted living facility. My sisters also live close by, but they both have so much going on in their own lives that they ignore how she is really doing on her own. Also, my mom refuses to talk about the idea of moving to a new place that could add years to her life because she wouldn’t have to struggle with the stress of taking care of a home on her own. How can I get everyone to face the situation and take action?

– Daughter Who Is A Good Planner

Dear Daughter Who Is A Good Planner,

I can tell by your concerns that you want your mother to be safe and live a long, healthy life. Unfortunately, we cannot make our beloved follow the path that we map out for them even if it could be in their best interest long term. Your mother is self-determining and gets to make her own decisions even if they shorten her ability to live a longer, safer life. I would pick a time to talk with her about your concerns, sharing with her that you would like to have her in your life for as long as possible. Tell her that you would love for her to be surrounded and supported by people and activities that match for her interests each day rather than struggling with keeping up a home on her own. Also, talk with your sisters. Tell them about your desire for your mother’s longevity and wellness vs. waiting for a crisis to happen before having these crucial conversations with your mother.


As published in the August 2018 issue of Connections.


About Kari:

Kari O’Neill, MSW, LICSW, is a licensed independent clinical social worker and a resident of Issaquah Highlands.

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