In their struggle to preserve control, aging parents may see their choices as primarily all or nothing decisions, a zero sum battle of wills with only winners and losers. Unfortunately, this narrow perspective misses what appears to be a more effective solution that trades surrender of some element of short-term control for preservation of long-term independence. Helping aging parents to understand and become comfortable with “trade off” accommodations allows families to uncouple winning from the need for a sustainability solution.
The example below is emblematic of how this approach accepts the validity of short term choices but argues that informed consent in these situations also includes a consideration of long term-friendly choices. The cane may be rejected for a number of reasons and that may prove viable for awhile. But the freedom of choice that rejects the cane in the face of gait and balance issues can quickly cascade into to a global loss of control from a fall. Since the gait and balance issues can’t be removed or ignored, a “trade off” approach is worth a consideration for its long term benefits. Either way, you’re going forward with the risk. The question is what’s the best way to protect the quality of life you currently enjoy?