How Do We Balance Autonomy and Risk for Older Adults?
Finding that balance takes guts, as caregivers often learn
By Dan Browning, Part of the TRANSFORMING LIFE AS WE AGE SPECIAL REPORT
May 1, 2017
“Georgia Dyson of St. Paul, Minn., died in March after suffering the gradual shrinkage of her world. Through it all, ‘she always relished her independence,’ her daughter Christine Dyson Dahn said.
Over Dyson’s 84 years, her spine twisted in two directions from degenerative scoliosis. She had cataracts, high blood pressure and congestive heart failure. She endured a double bypass heart operation, a mitral valve repair, a pacemaker, two hip replacements, a catheter, a hearing aid, dentures and, as you can imagine, periodic depression.
Despite all of that — and despite some misgivings about Dyson’s safety — family members did whatever they could to support her, insisting at each crossroads that she be allowed to get back to her routines.
‘We wanted to respect that fire in her, but we worried about her,’ Dahn said. ‘What if she went out in her wheelchair and got hit by a car?’
In the United Kingdom and some European nations like Denmark and the Netherlands, the focus is more on personal autonomy