My aunt is almost 98 years old. She lives in Florida. Her husband passed away 6 months ago. She thinks she can live alone. We live 30 minutes away for 6 months a year. She has macular degeneration and hearing loss. She is "on vacation" at our house right now. It was only supposed to be for 3 months but we will keep her here for an additional 2 months. She refuses to go into a nursing home and will not spend her money on an assisted living facility. She has no children. None of her other 4 nieces or nephew will get involved. I need help before I lose my mind and my husband. Are there any agencies that can help me assess her and prove that she can't live alone especially when we are up in New England for 6 months? I need help!

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Thank you for this. It at least gives me an idea of where to start!
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This has been a project for me periodically but more intensely now as the need has intensified.

First, I would rethink the approach of proving to your aunt that she can't live alone. That could make her more resistant and determined to prove that she can. Refocus on maximizing her quality of life and helping her to enjoy it, with helpers if necessary. You can also emphasize social interaction to be gained from helpers.

Be present during the initial stage of caregiving people in the house so that she feels comfortable. Perhaps you can emphasize that they're helping YOU, so that you can help her, but gradually have them interact with her more.

Second, it takes a while, and sometimes a "near miss" situation to get someone to think in terms of help. After this kind of event, someone could also become frustrated, overwhelmed and just give up, so I'd start researching agencies now. It takes a while to contact them, evaluate, research and get background info if you can, and then a break b/c after a while they all seem alike!

Third, I've gotten recommendation lists from Area Agency on Aging, Alzheimer's Assn. (EXCELLENT resources!), hospitals, doctors and friends. AA also included a checklist of issues and questions to address. Our county provides a list; the senior center also recommended a few.

Fourth, what I should have done was create a spreadsheet with names of companies and checked off the yes/no and more detailed answers as I was calling. I now have extensive notes in my phone log but still need to check back through them as I haven't yet coordinated them with the lists I have.

I've got interviews set up with short listed agencies, after perhaps calling a few dozen companies, most of which were quickly eliminated. All through the process, I've kept my parent informed and asked about his specific concerns, integrating what HE would like in terms of help as well as companionship.

I haven't succeeded in finding a veteran employed by a caregiving agency, but I'm still looking.

Fifth, I think it's important to have "meet and greet" introduction with any potential agency. Some don't bother with this or with any preliminary "assessment." I think it's necessary to help ease the older person's mind that someone isn't just going to come in and invade his/her space.

Sixth, in NE, you and your aunt could literally be snowbound for months. Begin thinking about what your aunt enjoyed doing in earlier years and try to find ways to adapt them to her situation now, especially the sight condition. Make them respite and "stay at home, inside and warm" days. Perhaps plan cooking or baking projects, especially if you can find an easy way for your aunt to help.

If she enjoys discussing various topics, plan conversations on subjects of interest (but stay away from negative news).

Consider magnifying glasses; contact any sight associations in your area or state, go to the AAA caregiver expo this fall if there's one in your area and get information on everything you can (I take a small rolling luggage case b/c I get so much information).

I tried using a notebook for people to write in to address a hearing loss, so discussions, questions, etc. could be read since they couldn't be heard. So far, no visitors have used it!

If you want a list of questions I've developed during my phone interviews, let me know and I'll post them here, but they are quite lengthy.
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Dear Linda,

Good of you to try and help your elderly aunt. I think it must be her strong will that has gotten her to 98. Wow! But for your own peace of mind and well being, I would try and access some resources from this website.
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