By SHERRIE FAULKNER
Rantou Press columnist
My mother is 83 years old and lives by herself. I am constantly worrying that she is going to hurt herself or go without something she needs because of her limited mobility. I really want her to go to a nursing home, but she refuses. What can I do?
It is evident by the fact that you reached out to me that you submitted this question because you love your mother and want what is best for her. It is hard when we think we know what is best and the other person doesn’t want to follow our advice, but we all have the right to self-determination.
This means we get to make our own decisions even if someone thinks they are not good ones. The only time this right is taken away is if a doctor has determined that a person is not decisional due to a medical issue/condition or if the court has declared a person incompetent.
You ask, "what can I do?". First, I suggest you try to understand your mother’s side. Being independent is a very important thing. I would argue that as we get older, and diminished faculties shrink our choices and opportunities, independence is even more valued. Nursing homes can provide excellent care, and while they do try to allow as much independence as possible, your mom would be giving up a lot.
Second, try to support your mother in ways that will help her maintain her independence and give you peace of mind. Simple things like having easy-to-fix meals, keeping clutter to a minimum and setting up a weekly pill box can help. Is your mother a part of a social group or church that can reach out to her? You can talk to her neighbors and give them your number to call in case of emergency. There are also wonderful resources in Champaign County, including Meals on Wheels and friendly visits.
Last, make sure you are taking care of yourself. Caregiver burnout is a real thing, and it can cause a lot of issues for you and your mother, including friction in your relationship. Make sure you are talking someone; sometimes there are even support groups for individuals who are caring for other people. Providing care and support for someone can be extremely rewarding but it can also bring of feelings of fear, frustration, and guilt.
Here is a list of a few resources for older adults that are available in Champaign County:
Senior Services – CCRPC: https://ccrpc.org/programs/senior-services/
Family Services of Champaign County: http://www.famservcc.org/
I wish you and your mother well.
This column is not intended to provide counseling/legal advice. Before you undertake any action, you should consult your own social worker/counselor. In the event of a mental health emergency, call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
Sherrie Faulkner of Rantoul, who writes a monthly column for the Rantoul Press, is a supporter of the local community. If you have a question that you think will help others, you may send it for consideration to RantoulAskSherrie@yahoo.com