Ask an Angel: August 24, 2017

Our Ask An Angel correspondent is Arlene Petersen, Life Care Navigation Specialist in the area of senior home care.

Q. I recently learned that my father, who is 86, used his ladder to check on something on the exterior of his home. My mother disclosed this to me and made me promise not to call him out on it. Now I am more than worried, wondering how to keep him from doing such dangerous activities. Help!

A. Oh my! This is cause for concern! It sounds like your dad’s will to be independent is making him cross the line with safe vs. unsafe activities. While this doesn’t exactly surprise me, it does make me think of some practical options to help you. With summer ending soon, and fall around the corner, it is a good opportunity to talk about hiring help with yard cleanup and such. If money is an issue for him, you might consider contacting a local Boy Scout or church group looking for a community service project. I’ve seen such groups in action and it works out well for all involved. More importantly, the ladder should be removed from the home. Using a ladder is risky for anyone, let alone an age when bones are more fragile and balance can be an issue. He may not realize the outcome of a fall, and that is where another type of conversation can help. Mapping out the scene and discussing the “what if” outcomes may help him realize that he does have to use wisdom when it comes to doing certain chores around the house. The idea is to talk about it in a loving way, with understanding and care, offering options that will maintain his dignity. There are other things he can safely take an interest in to maintain his home. It’s up to you to re-direct his energy and efforts. Your father, most likely, has a great deal of pride in his home and your loving conversation can help him maintain that pride.

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