My family began the “what comes next” for our mother, Mary, when my brother received a call from her auto insurance company. It seems that our mother had been in yet another “minor” fender bender. This time, the other party was injured. Mary pulled out onto a two-lane farm-to-market road and T-boned a woman who was innocently driving by. In addition to the damage done to both vehicles, the woman Mary hit sustained a leg fracture. My brother delved into the current situation regarding my mother’s ability to drive and her accident history. The insurance agent made him aware that our mother had been involved in 7 motor vehicle accidents. We were only aware of 2.
Our reality was that we were going to have to take our mother’s car keys away. This in and of itself was going to be stressful for everyone. My mother loved her freedom, loved to drive, and she loved living out by the lake. Unfortunately, services for seniors who didn’t drive were sorely lacking where she lived. There was no public transportation and there were no transportation services for seniors. This meant that our mother was going to have to move.
Fortunately for us, I had been in the senior living business for quite a few years and, after much discussion with our mother, we elected to move her into an independent living facility close to where my brother lived in Houston. She was still capable of managing her personal hygiene and her memory was such that she knew when her meal times were and where meals and activities took place at the facility. For her, the socialization with others was an added bonus. The primary reason she had felt the need to cruise the countryside while she was living at the lake was that she was lonely and bored.
Time progressed and Mary’s needs changed. Thus, her environment had to change to accommodate her needs.
Choosing the right setting for seniors and adults who have lost their abilities to live alone isn’t easy. The most effective place to start is with a clear picture of the individual’s current realities regarding their physical status and the environment in which they live. It is an opportunity for families to come together and support their loved one and each other.