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Aspects of Aging – Finding the Balance


It is an intricate and sometimes challenging process to find the best balance between an elder holding on to control and independence and, simultaneously, accepting enough help to maintain safety, comfort and peace of mind.

This puzzle is one causing concern to families, friends and caregivers as they experience the sadness of seeing their favorite person struggling to maintain a fading lifestyle.

Family members, especially, find it hard to introduce acceptable measures which could increase safety and security, ease pain, allow for more flexibility in one’s day and leave mum or dad with a better sense of quality in their lives.

So, why is this struggle so common and so frustrating? Generally speaking, because it is fear-based. Fear of getting old, fear of being seen as helpless, fear that someone will “take-over,” fear that no one will truly treasure the past accomplishments of this whole person.

Rather than trying to convince a parent to give up his or her steel fisted grasp on control and a perceived independence, sometimes a bartering system works; “If I do something for you, will you do something for me?” The examples are countless and as varied as the issues causing concern in the family. Another technique is guilt, used not meanly, just enough to raise the conscience; “Mum really needs you to do this for her; she is in much more discomfort than she is telling you.”

Families know their parents best but sometimes have to let go of their own fears in facing this common dilemma.

Written by Anne Duggan, Invited Advisor to Bell Alliance on Aspects of Aging

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