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Cheryl Mathieu, Ph.D., M.S.W.
Ask the Expert Geriatric Care Manager

February 2nd, 2008
I'm worried about my elderly parents, but how do I know when it is time to step in to help?

This is a great question. As loved ones, we want to do the right thing and deciding when to step in and assist an older loved one is a difficult decision. First, you can review the AgingPro list of Warning Signs, which tells you what to look for. Next, consider talking with your older loved one and discussing your concerns and what you are noticing. Don’t be surprised if, no matter how “bad” the situation appears to you, you’re loved one tells you they don’t need any help, they are fine. I have heard, “I’ve been doing this on my own for 80 years, why would I need help now?” many times in my work as a Geriatric Care Manager. If you are really concerned about them and they show many signs of needing assistance, because of physical limitations or problems with their memory and decision making, you may want to consult your loved one’s doctor, call a local Geriatric Care Manager or call your local Area Agency on Aging, both which can be found in AgingPro’s Eldercare Directory. Do the best you can. Most importantly, do whatever you need to do so that later you don’t look back and say, “I could have, would have, should have…”. And remember, if your loved one has the capacity to understand the consequences of their behavior, they have the right to make their own decisions – whether it looks to other people like a “bad” choice or not.

Trust yourself.
Dr. Mathieu

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