If your loved one had his or her way, they would drive the
car forever, wear the same cosmetics forever, smoke or chew
tobacco forever and eat their favorite dessert forever.
But if you are the caretaker, you know that some things must
stop. You also know that gentle persuasion is useless; it merely
erodes your relationship. Here are a few tips.
1. Ask your loved one to ask their doctor (clinical doctor or
trusted medical advisor) the following question: “Would it
be better for my lungs to stop smoking?” Be present so the
question does not turn into “Will smoking a few cigarettes
once in a while kill me?” Hearing it from the doctor is
2. Don't ever purchase something you believe is detrimental
to your elderly person. Whether it's coffee, cigarettes, beer
or lipstick, say “That is something I can't buy for you; it's
against my principles.” Don't be surprised if you cave in a
few times to some super ruse they use on you. But the next
time, have your answer ready.
3. Let your family and other caretakers know you are no
longer supplying these items (the car keys, the wine bottle,
the codeine-containing pain pills). Try to get cooperation.
Discussing it with your loved one may do more harm than
good. If they start the discussion, you end it. This is not a
task for the timid! After it's done, you'll wonder what was
4. Don't buy a wheelchair if your loved one can still walk
with your help. Stay with a cane as long as possible. Then
the walker. Stay with a walker as long as possible. Then
your personal help. Once a wheelchair has been accepted,
the last bit of exercise, walking, is lost. Fight against it.
Hide it in a far away closet.
Aging is necessary but chronic illness and
pain are not.
If you have managed to free your loved one from having to
take pills or from certain disabilities that would soon require
pills, you can give yourself great credit. Perhaps you, too, will
find the needed natural help when you are aged and have lost
your authority and your way mentally. Our lives are all fore
shortened, much like the life of a domestic steer's. Does a captive
animal learn from seeing its companion disappear? It does
nothing to escape its fate. Should we accept our fate with the
same docility? None of us can remember how things were in
precivilized times. We are eager to believe the present is the best
time that has ever been. The steer, too, has its feed provided, its
water provided, its shelter for the night provided, seemingly the
best time it ever had. Perhaps the price we pay for civilization,
like the steer's price, is simply too high. There must be other
ways. As a society, we should search for our lost longevity.