Senior savvy: A battle over food

Debbie Gitner and Linda Sullivan/Daily News correspondents

Q: My father keeps food out on the counter even when the weather is very hot, and I worry about him becoming ill. How can I convince him to change his ways?

A: Unfortunately you cannot change your father and his habits. He still feels that he is in charge and able to make his own decisions. What has worked for years will continue to work. Just continue to remind him of the heat and the risk involved in having food sitting on a counter. Maybe he will only take out what he will eat and leave that on the counter and no more than that.

One of the most difficult things for children of seniors is to allow their parents the ability to lead their life they way they want. Children want to change their parents and take over but it is most important to remember they can make their own choices even if we as the children do not agree.

Q: My mother lives in an assisted living facility and they recently told me that they can not provide care any more. Can they force my mother to move?

A: In Massachusetts, assisted living facilities are able to provide care for seniors who need assistance with bathing, grooming, dressing or getting out of bed or chair. When a senior is in need of additional services, the facility is not able to provide the care based upon their staffing patterns and concerns for the senior. Some people hire private duty aides as a second person to provide care, although this can be expensive. Others make a move to another assisted living facility (a few offer more types of assistance), or make a move to a nursing home where they are licensed to provide more extensive services.

The assisted living facility should try to work with you so your mother is safe, but they can put pressure on you to move your mother.

Q: I am so confused and so completely lost in trying to provide care for my father. Can someone help me find the right resources and relieve me of my stress?

A: In addition to your father's primary care physician, who most likely has limited time to help with these matters, geriatric care managers are able to provide an individual care plan to help you find the right care for your father. A geriatric care manager has knowledge of available resources, is able to make recommendations, visit your father and be there as a support to you. Geriatric care managers are able to allow you time with your father, and to visit as a daughter or son rather than the visit turning into a negative experience. They can also help find the right resources to help care for your father without you having to take too much time off from work.

ElderCare Resource Services is a partnership of geriatric nurses and social workers that helps families to investigate, assess and recommend medical and non-medical care and resources for seniors.

Send questions to SeniorSavvy@ElderCareResources.com or Elder Care Resources Inc., 29 Gano Road, Marlborough, MA 01752.