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Helping a Relative Age with Dignity

Mary Walker Baron. Photo courtesy of

Cheers to the National Association of Social Workers member Mary Walker Baron for her blog on Huffington Post about helping her elderly father-in-law age with dignity.

John was 94 years old and blind and almost deaf when he decided to relocate to California from New Jersey to be closer to relatives after his wife died. Baron soon realized their home could not meet John’s disability needs.

So with much angst they decided to put him in a senior citizen community. And to their relief things worked out, although John complains sometimes about things, like being served coffee at the end of his lunch instead of the beginning.

“John is living his life and life lived well is full of challenges and complaints and quiet caring for others. Yes, he is declining. So am I. So are you. But in his full throttle claiming all of life’s vagaries, my father-in-law has forged dignity into his decline and that might truly be the best of all possible worlds.”

To learn more about the services social workers provide the elderly, visit the National Association of Social Workers’ “Help Starts Here” Seniors and Aging web site by clicking here.

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  1. Wow. Wonderfully written article that articulates financial, social, and emotional obstacles faced by those in their golden years. As a medical social worker, I have worked with patients struggling with the loss of freedom as their health declined and the loss of social supports as they aged. Insurance does not pay for assisted living, and in California those with no funds and family to provide care have the option of home with In Home Supportive Services or placement at a long term skilled nursing facility under Medi-Cal if they can no longer live independently. Given that Medi-Cal beds are usually full, a person does not usually get his/her first choice of facility. It’s a painfully difficult situation for all involved. John’s story is the reality of many, and he is lucky to have the funds to pay for a place with caring and companionship such as this one.

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