I am concerned about mom being isolated now that her husband died. What should I do?


Q: My 75-year old mother was recently widowed. She's in good health, but I am concerned about her being isolated. What can I do?

A: When an elderly person who lives alone does not need nursing care or home care, but does need companionship and some kind of daily routine, adult day care may be the solution. According to a year-long study by the California Department of Aging, up to 96 percent of the people who attended adult day care centers either improved or maintained their levels of function in such activities as bathing, dressing, and problem-solving. The ability to perform these simple daily tasks is critical in determining whether or not individuals can continue to live on their own. Many day care services provide door to door transportation for their enrollees, Day care, which averages about $40 a day depending on the region and services, is also much less expensive than home care which can run anywhere from $8 to $50 an hour.

Day care centers increasingly cater to the very active senior citizens in our society, with activities that include swimming, exercise classes, dancing, hiking, sightseeing excursions and even trips to hospitals where the enrollees visit hospitalized children and adults. While your mother may not wish to live with you, she might consider living with a roommate. Sharing a home and a life with another person or similar age is a growing trend among seniors in this country. My best advice to you is to continue to let your mother make her decisions for as long as she is able.

Dr. John Connolly is President & CEO of Castle Connolly Medical Ltd., America's "trusted" source for identifying top doctors. He has an extensive background in management and healthcare. For more than a decade, he was President of New York Medical College where he successfully revitalized the school while insuring its financial security. Dr. Connolly is extensively involved in healthcare activities including serving as a director of the New York Business Group on Health, as founder, a director and past chair of the American Lyme Disease Foundation, as a member of the Presidents Advisory Council of the United Hospital Fund of New York, and as a Fellow of the New York Academy of Medicine. He has also served on the boards of two hospitals and as chairman of the board of one, and is currently Chairman of Professional Examination Service, Inc. He also is a frequent guest on regional and national TV and radio shows, including 20/20, CNN and Good Morning America.

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