Social Question

jca's avatar

If and when you get to a point in life where you can no longer drive, would you be willing to leave your home for an assisted living situation, or would you insist on staying home and burdening others with helping you out?

Asked by jca (36043points) April 8th, 2015

I ask this as I see my mom’s neighbor who can’t drive but refuses to go to an alternative living situation. The lady is in her late 80’s, can no longer drive and lives in her own house. Family members, neighbors and friends are helping her shop and bringing her food. The question isn’t specifically about her as I can’t really speculate beyond what I see as I don’t know her.

It just got me thinking about elderly people who insist on living at home (in their own houses), despite no longer being able to drive. When they refuse to go to assisted living or nursing homes but at the same time are not able to shop for themselves, how practical is it for their friends or family members to have to shop for them and worry about them obtaining food? Is it wonderful that they’re independent and hanging on or is it selfish?

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47 Answers

livelaughlove21's avatar

If the wording of this question isn’t biased, I don’t know what is.

I don’t think it matters what you or I think about it. It’s their life and they shouldn’t have to go live in some home because they can’t drive.

My husband, who is 25, has a degenerative retinal disease that very well may render him blind way before he’s an old man. If he becomes unable to drive in 5 years, should he be put in an assisted living facility so friends and family members, myself included, are not burdened by having to do things for him that he can’t do for himself? I don’t think so.

People don’t have to help their elderly friends and family members – it’s a choice. If they feel resentful about that, that’s their own fault.

And I think it also depends on how independent the person is otherwise. Do they live alone and just need to be driven around from time to time or are they unable to care for themselves? If the person’s vision is their biggest problem, I don’t think sticking them in a facility is necessarily a good idea.

cookieman's avatar

I would like to think the first choice, but every elderly person I have ever known (including my inlaws whom my wife and I have cared for for over fifteen years) are stubborn, myopic, and do not give a shit about who they burden physically, emotionally, and even financially.

I’m hoping I will be different.

dabbler's avatar

It might seem selfish but people I have seen in this situation can be terrified of moving their home, especially if they have lived in the same place for several decades.
The logistics of the move itself can be daunting.
The expense of the assisted living arrangement might be a concern.
If the person has the beginnings of Alzheimer’s the familiarity of their home can be stabilizing.

I’m not saying it’s not a burden for friends, family, social services. But the trauma of moving can put some elders into an end-of-life spiral.

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

I’ve already told my kids (and my husband) that if I ever become unable to take care of myself, I’d rather go to a home. I think about dementia and them having to take care of me. I just don’t want that for my family. As long as I can look after myself and just need a bit of help with the shopping and the like, I’d rather be at home.

rojo's avatar

I plan on living long enough to be a burden to my children and then taking full advantage of it.

zenvelo's avatar

My mother (91) lives in a condo building where the residents get dinner each night in the dining room. She is getting pretty frail, and needs assistance getting to dinner each day, and also a bit of help nearby when she showers.

My sister and I discussed getting her into assisted living last fall, but a gerontologist told us it would be so disruptive to her that she wouldn’t live very long.

This question is posed as an either/or. But really, why should the neighbor lose her independence just because she can’t drive? Is she not able to walk? Aren’t there other ways to find a middle solution?

hominid's avatar

I have a difficult time condemning anyone who wishes to be as independent as they can (living at home despite the inability to drive, etc). But I also think our (as in the U.S.) view of independence is way too hardcore. My Indian friends describe the shock of trying to raise a family in a culture that doesn’t have multiple generations living together. They look at the U.S. obsession with creating “independent” units as oddly-ideological and impractical.

When my mother gets to a point where she is no longer able to safely care for herself, I will (without hesitation) offer her a place in my home. But she was also raised with the fierce individualism that has her convinced that moving in with her son would = failure. I’m a product of this individualistic culture, but can also appreciate how amazing it would be to have multiple generations living under the same roof and raising children.

When I can no longer drive, I suspect that I’ll have to weigh my options – but I hope that I will have close able-bodied people in my life who will be brutally honest about what they want as well. My real answer: I don’t know.

canidmajor's avatar

I have observed that the aging parent thing seems to go in generational cycles. Those of us who have had to do some care (driving, shopping, etc) for difficult aging parents tend to be making plans for our own care, whether communal housing, or CCCs or assisted living.
There is also a connection to the belovedness of the elderly person. For someone who is deeply loved, it is not considered a burden to children, friends and neighbors to do these things. For someone like my mother, who has been pissy and judgemental to all her entire life, it is a burden. She hires a driver when errands need to be done because no one wants to help her anymore.

I am already looking into options so that my children won’t have to pick up all the slack.

Bill1939's avatar

Even when someone may not have family and friends to assist them, many communities provide transportation and other services for those who do not or cannot drive. Unless disabled by age or physical limitations requiring the care provided by a nursing home, it is better for most to stay in their own home. The cost of providing the means for a person to remain in their home is significantly less than placing them in a for-profit home where the care provided is often minimal.

JLeslie's avatar

My grandma moved to Manhattan once she couldn’t drive. Also, she was starting to have more difficulty carrying groceries and walking longer distances, and in Manhattan everything was convenient, and many things she could get delivered. She could easily walk to the bus stop or hail a taxi. She also had all sorts of entertainment from museums to theatre, and learned to play Bridge.

If I was overall physically and mentally fit, I would move to a place that has bus service (like Century Village or The Villages in FL) or some sort of planned community, whether it be for active adults or every age, that I could easily get around to a lot of places walking and that had a lot of delivery services.

Some older towns, and some very new ones, are planning with a central shopping area with many walking paths and less expensive condos and townhouses near the center. Of course major cities like NYC have plenty of transportation, but you need to be ok living in a very urban setting.

I’ve thought in the past of creating an errand service for people who can’t drive or who are very busy. Groceries, dry cleaning, drug store, etc. I’m not sure if the numbers would work well.

A friend of mine used to take a cab back and forth from work every day. She had a regular driver most days. Her commute was about 5 miles at the time.

When my grandma visited the last time with me (she used to stay three weeks in the summer) I told her not to rent a car. I was nervous about her driving. She, for some reason, wouldn’t let me call a cab the once or twice it was inconvenient for me to take her somewhere. I didn’t mind taking hr places at all, it was just three weeks she stayed with me and she wasn’t asking every day for a special trip. The taxi 2–3 times would not even have been as much as renting a car for 3 weeks, but she resisted it. My guess is a cab once in a while is less expensive than a nursing home. It’s probably less expensive than a car payment, insurance, gas, and upkeep.

@rojo LOL. One of the very things I regret about not having kids.

Apparently_Im_The_Grumpy_One's avatar

Ideally, I’d like to stay in the home I’ve earned for myself as long as humanly possible. If I can’t drive, then I’ll walk. If I can’t walk, then I’ll use an electric wheelchair. I’d like to think my loved ones are not the machines from the matrix; devoid of emotion and unable to spare the processing power of keeping me alive.

However, I’ll probably revise my answer in about 20 years when this becomes relevant for me.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Burden the other bastards and make them pay for the hell of raising them.~ My situation is different. Where I live is wild and desolate and really a tough place to live, but I love it. But there is no way I could live there with a bunch of physical challenges and I’m not asking anyone to try to help me out if that occurs. I’m realistic, some times life sucks. Denying the obvious helps no one.

filmfann's avatar

Dementia is hardly on the same footing as not being able to drive.
I would encourage someone suffering from Dementia to have, at the very least, in home care.
Someone who can’t drive is not helpless. They can often deal with things independently by doing such things as having groceries delivered, or take a cab or bus.

OpryLeigh's avatar

My grandmother who is 83 has just hung up her driving keys for the last time. She has a number of health problems that prevent her from driving. Generally she gets a taxi todo her shopping etc but we all help where we can as well to keep the cost down for her.

Giving up her car was very hard for her as it was yet another sign that she was old. If we suggested that she live in a care home I know her spirit would be shattered. She’s by no means a burden and, as far as I am concerned, the longer she lives in her own home, the longer she is likely to live altogether. If that means that we have to help her more, so be it.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

I would probably rely on mass transit and taxis rather than subject myself to persons with an attitude such as the OP’s. Scary. This would hardly be a reason for me to completely alter my lifestyle and surrender my rights to people I don’t know and probably don’t want to.

janbb's avatar

I am hoping to position myself into an interim move to a condo in a walkable neighborhood when I can’t live in my home in suburbia for various reasons. I would be happy to give up on having to drive at some point. If I am further debilitated, I hope to be able to afford to live in some kind of communal/assisted living situation not far from one of my sons. Co housing is appealing to me but like socialism, it may be better in the abstract rather than the reality.

jaytkay's avatar

For myself, I don’t drive much anyway. I live in a place with good public transportation, and I ride my bike a lot.

My mother lives in an area that requires a car. She’s openly talking about perhaps selling the house, so I think she’ll do it.

marinelife's avatar

Why are those the only two options? Maybe her friends and family members are delighted to help her stay in her home.

All I know is assisted living is devoutly not to be wished for.

janbb's avatar

@marinelife It really depends on the place. My mother was in several places toward the end of her life and the last one was lovely – expert in finding out what people were interested in and trying to keep them engaged.

Also, for many people being isolated and alone in their house can be dreadful and being with other people and potentially having friends and structured activities can extend life.

I just read an article about assisted living places that are allowing young adults to live there for free to add companionship to the elderly. That is a great idea.

Another community near Dartmouth has extensive discussions with you when you enter about the end-if-life choices you want to make. Some communities support wineries.

I don’t think there is one right or wrong answer here. I do think that eldercare can be a terrible burden to children. We don’t have great solutions in place; particularly for those without a lot of money.

We need to get much more creative and savvy fast!

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

Will they let me have a Border Collie?

gorillapaws's avatar

I’m going to be very disappointed if we don’t have self-driving cars by then.

Strauss's avatar

I realize that the OP is not about the person mentioned, but I would like to use the same example. There are a lot of assumptions in the OP. The first is that the ability to drive is a factor to living independently. I am without a driver’s license. That is not stopping me (and never has) from getting around, especially with the transit system in this region.

Help from family, friends and community…no one is forcing these individuals and groups to assist lady in question. The fact that she has such a support system in place speaks to her standing in the community; one that has probably been cultured for years, if not decades. The folks that are helping her with shopping, etc., are also adding to the enrichment of her life, preventing her from feeling trapped in her own home. Anyone who saw this type of assistance as a burden would not continue for long.

@Espiritus_Corvus You would only need to register your Border Collie with the Official Service Dog Registry.

ibstubro's avatar

I think the two biggest factors are socioeconomic and lifestyle.

By the time my great aunt was totally dependent, she was a widow and had only one son. They were millionaires, yet she’d lived in a modest ranch house in a rural town for decades, and they simply paid local women to sit with her and prepare her meals. If you have enough money, you’re a minimal burden to family and friends, who simply have to hire the people to give care.

Someone who’s not rooted in the family home, who’s had a mobile lifestyle, might not have a problem moving to assisted living.

There is a wonderful place in a town near by that offers all ranges of lifestyle on the same campus. I don’t know if you can get a stand-alone house, but you can get at least a 2 bedroom duplex with garage. and off-street parking. We’ve helped people move from a 2 to 1 bedroom apartment, from independent to assisted living, and from assisted live to 24 hour care. It eases the transition, and allows friendships to carry on, uninterrupted until one is incapacitated or dies. I think it would be much easier for me to take it in stages.

janbb's avatar

@Espiritus_Corvus I would think if they allowed Border Collies the dogs would be running the place in no time.

jca's avatar

@livelaughlove21 and @Espiritus_Corvus: I tried to word my question in such a way as to not insert bias (as per @livelaughlove21) or “scary attitude” (as per @Espiritus_Corvus). I did say “is it wonderful or is it selfish” because I realize that it may be wonderful but we also should give some thought to that it may be selfish.

In thinking about the example of my parents’ neighbor (whom I specifically didn’t want this to be about but is an example of what could occur), she is not only not able to drive due to being blind in one eye, in her late 80’s and slow with walking and reflexes, but in a situation where she is unable to clean and her house has been visited on several occasions by Adult Protective agency in addition to the local police and fire department. She has one step child who lives about 45 minutes away. There’s not a huge support in place, for this person, @Yetanotheruser, which is what got me to thinking about this question as a general topic.

I do realize that it’s not necessarily an either/or issue, @marinelife and that it is different for different people depending on their health issues, their mental health and ability to make decisions for themselves, the availability of neighbors and the availability of family and the willingness of neighbors and family to help out. In posing it as an “either/or” I was thinking about the extreme example of this neighbor, who is basically alone with one adult step child far away and neighbors who are limited with their own limitations.

Coloma's avatar

I think remaining as independent in ones own home as long as possible is tantamount to ones health across all lines, mental/emotional/physical. Assisted living is very expensive and it is minimal to hire someone for around $15 an hour to run errands, or transport an elderly person to doctors appointments. Another alternative is to find someone to live with the elderly person for room and board and/or a small salary. My old neighbor had an older middle aged single women living with her for a modest salary and room and board.

The women did the shopping, prepared simple lunches and dinners, tidied the house once a week or so, did the laundry and provided some companion care, game playing, TV watching, sitting on the porch visiting. I think she was paid around $800 a month her room and board with 2 days a week off and afternoons off between noon and 4–5 pm. Part of her arrangement was also as a protective presence in the home nights as the elderly lady had fallen several times.
Much less expensive than a care facility and helped everyone involved.

I don’t want to burden anyone either but I am certainly not going to be able to afford thousands a month for a cozy little retirement unit with amenities. I think live in companion care is a good way to go.

jaytkay's avatar

The “Official Service Dog Registry” is a business selling meaningless IDs. It it no official in any way.

Mariah's avatar

Here’s an interesting perspective – I’m 22 and healthy and basically can’t drive (very phobic). Should I have to go into assisted living?

I use public transportation a lot (don’t know if this would be an option for the person in the question?) My boyfriend does drive so anything that benefits both of us (getting groceries, etc) I can rely on him to do the driving. I don’t like being dependent on him, but it’s what I do. Occasionally he’ll do me a big favor if I need to be driven somewhere that doesn’t benefit him too, and I’ll usually buy him a dinner out afterwards or something.

I’ve seen my grandma’s nursing home. It is basically long term hospitalization and I know from experience that I start to lose my mind after about 1 week in hospital. Nursing homes are pretty much the ultimate nightmare scenario for me and I know I will try to be independent for as long as I can. The inability to drive hasn’t held me back that much yet.

canidmajor's avatar

Every individual and every situation is different. My dad was in a nursing home for the last year of his life because he wanted it that way. They could have easily afforded 24/7 in home care, but he wanted to be away from my mother’s complaints and harping. It wasn’t a terribly posh place, but the staff was good, and he didn’t feel like a burden as he was quite infirm.
If one can afford it, there are some CCCs that go from fully independent living to end-of-life care. Such communities are becoming more affordable. “Assisted Living” is not the nightmare some make it out to be. It can be as simple as using the shuttle service to go shopping, or maybe having an aide help with bathing, or someone helping to keep track of meds.
My mother’s obsession with staying in her home means that she is alone and lonely most of the time. If she falls down the stairs she could lie broken at the bottom for days before anyone discovers her. She is fully compos mentis, mostly blind, and in fair health for her age.
She has told me that she doesn’t want to go into a nice living circumstance for older adults because she “can’t abide old people”.
She is ninety years old.

janbb's avatar

@canidmajor I agree -everyone’s situation is different.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Rick’s dad is in his early 90’s and still lives at the house. I, personally, think he would benefit greatly from an assisted living facility. I think he would enjoy the fact that he has constant access to company. He’s very gregarious.
However, I think the boys don’t want to let go of their childhood, which I think is incredibly selfish of them. He has lots of family to tend to him, and it’s what they want to do.

As for me…there is only one assisted living facility I’d want to live in, and I would never be able to afford it.

Darth_Algar's avatar

I’d rather die than go into a nursing home. If it ever gets to the point where I’m going to need to be in a nursing home in the near future then that’s the point where I check out.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

In this state we have IHSS (In Home Support Services) to keep people out of institutions. So, one of her friends or family can be her care provider and the state will pay them for their effort. So, even if they are willing to help her for nothing, there is a way for them to be compensated for taking of their day to help her. Many seniors are not going to go into an assisted living or rest home for similar reason they won’t become part of a faith, they do not want to give up any control over their life. As one woman put it to me when friends ask her if it would be easier for her to go to a rest home and she said if she went in there, she can’t come and go as she wished, or eat what she wanted, she would have to go through those running the facility to do much of which she had to ask no one for now. Then there is the cost, it would cost more to house her in a facility than to have IHSS pay her assistant to help her at home. This state doesn’t really even want to pay that, as they have attacked the IHSS system for decades, but they have no alternative. Anyway she goes, she will be affecting someone in time, money or both. She is 80, it is not like she is going to be around 20–30 more years needing help. I would do what I can to help her stay in her home, her home is probably paid for, to use most facilities they want you to break yourself. Even though it matters much how much you have when you go, because you ain’t taking crap with you, it is important to some people not to lose their whole life’s accumulation, even if they are leaving it for others to fight over after they are gone.

marinelife's avatar

@janbb You touched on it. Money.

But my point was that loss of independence and privacy, which are really horrible.

janbb's avatar

@marinelife True but being alone and lonely is for shit. But I totally agree that having enough money to afford a really good place is probably a necessity for satisfaction. And for some, independence and privacy are hard to give up while others might enjoy being nurtured more. Basically, getting old and infirm in this society sucks.

Coloma's avatar

I agree with @marinelife Loss of independence and privacy is horrible. I am only 55 but have had to cope with this after having to give up my home after being tanked in this recession between 2010 and 2013, living with room mates for the first time in the history of my adult life. I didn’t even want a room mate when I was 19 and living alone.

It has been a huge adjustment after having my own home for 35 years until I was rendered insolvent in this depression.
If nothing else I have learned I am a pretty adaptable and resilient person but still….not what I would choose if not for necessity at this time. I loved living alone and don’t have issues with feeling lonely, I like my own company, even though I am an extrovert by nature.
I can happily be alone for lengthy stretches, just me and the pets with some phone chat with friends and a few monthly get togethers.

JLeslie's avatar

I’m thinking of my SIL ex-husband. Eventually he moved his mom from being 4 hours away to an assisted living facility close to his home. She liked it there. She had a small apartment, organized activities, people were very social, and medical staff to help if necessary.

My grandpa lived in a place like that for a while, but I would think he was quite lonely. He was slightly hard of hearing and had some mental illness and when I think of the ten years I knew him (before he died, I was still a child) it makes me quite sad. I wish my parents had had the space and money to keep him at home with us.

My memory is from a child’s perspective. I hope he wasn’t as sad as I perceived him to be. :(. When I was very young he lived in his own apartment near us. My dad moved him out to our town. He had dinner with us twice a week. Then we moved to Maryland and that’s when he was in an apartment that was part of a facility. He was in the building without daily medical needs, they just had services to clean the apartment and bring a meal a few times a week. My dad did visit him almost every weekend. I went sometimes. I didn’t like going very much. I have regrets about it.

There’s more, but I already went on a long time about it.

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

I think my willingness to leave my home would also depend on the facility I was going to. I’ve never visited aged care residential options here (or anywhere else). However, they seem very variable.

ibstubro's avatar

What it comes down to is you can’t make a determination until you, yourself have reached that point.

I do this for a living…auctioning people’s excess. Some of the most inveterate collectors go with grace. A single-wide trailer can be an ordeal.

JLeslie's avatar

I wonder if the willingness to move has anything to do with how much a person has moved in general as an adult. I never imagine myself in one home for the rest of my life. I’m still fairly young, 47, so my idea about it might change as I age. Not very young though. I do think about what retirement and old age will be like, and my expectation is I will have some health problems. I hope not.

chyna's avatar

I would hope that as I become old and frail that no one considers me a burden.
At one point in my life I was a vibrant healthy human being. I hope that whoever loved me when I was able to drive would still love me enough to taker around to the store and want to be around me. This question makes me sad.

rojo's avatar

I am beginning to think I should start looking for that ice floe

jca's avatar

@chyna: In the case I was thinking of, my mother’s neighbor, she is a widow and has no children herself. Her husband’s one son (her step-son) lives about 45 minutes away, and I don’t think they have that good of a relationship, and I know his wife does not really like her (so therefore the wife is probably not advocating for the step-son to go down and make the two hour round trip to help out my mom’s neighbor).

chyna's avatar

@jca. I wasn’t being critical. I know people do feel that old people are a burden. I have no children so I don’t know who will be picking out my nursing home. :-)

Inspired_2write's avatar

I witnessed a scenario where an 92 year old woman spent years fighting going from her own home, to an indendant apartment living , who fought going onto the next step for people in her age bracket and condition ( hearing and sight diminished) for too long and as a result she basically refused to see that she was harrassing anyone around to do errands and things that she is suppossed to be able to do herself while living in her own apartment.
The result: she finally was forced to move since she got to the stage that she could not cook, nor keep her apartment reasonably clean.
After about only one month in the new facility, she is well adjusted and has regular meals and socailizing is easier since everyone is close by in the facility.
She caused so much unrest and problems for everyone which could had been avoided had she accepted her health problems earylier.
I tell you right now everyone is breathing much better now knowing that she has adjusted quite well and that her every need is taken care of.
I think that the media showing abuse in Seniors home had scared her, but in a small Town where everybody knows her , she has nothing to worry about.
I would move in such a facility if and when I cannot do for myself and I would not burden neighbors, nor relatives. It makes everyone happier and makes it easier on everyones nerves. It is a stage in life that should be accepted gracefully.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

^ She caused so much unrest and problems for everyone which could had been avoided had she accepted her health problems earylier.
Isn’t that like most people in most things that involve not only change but relinquishing control or any sort?

Inspired_2write's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central
Yes you are right, but in her case she went overboard by involving so many unnecessary people that caused hostilites and gossipy behaviour. So Much so that these old friends and acquaintances no longer talk with her. I think that her personality was like that all of her life and durning the end it was magnified.
I did not wish to get into the nitty details.

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