I’m Worried about My 90-Year-Old Mother Who Lives alone, far away

The Japan News

Dear Troubleshooter:

I’m a homemker in my 60s. My 90-year-old mother has been living alone since my father passed away 30 years ago.

She lives far away and I haven’t been able to visit her amid the coronavirus pandemic, but she seems to be doing well. However, I’m worried about how long she can continue living alone.

My mother gets along well with people in the neighborhood and interacts with all sorts of people. The level of care services she receives is just enough to support her.

I’ve suggested several times that she could either live with my family or move into a senior housing complex near our home, but she insists that she prefers where she currently lives.

By the way, her current home is not the place where I grew up, but a house she moved into after my father retired.

She’s probably gotten more stubborn in old age. She often criticizes me, saying, “I’m at an age where anything could happen at any time, so you should focus on your own life.” I provide her with financial support every month, which she says is sufficient. What do you think I should do?

S, Saitama Prefecture

Dear Ms. S:

Your mother appears to be living healthily on her own, even at the age of 90. That’s a wonderful thing. Perhaps it isn’t necessary to treat her situation as extraordinary.

Looking around, there are plenty of people in their 90s who are doing well, and various media outlets often report on their contributions in different fields. For these individuals, this lifestyle is normal, and making a fuss over it may actually cause annoyance. This is the era we live in.

You mentioned that your mother has declined all your proposals, including your invitation to live together. If she’s good at socializing with her neighbors and interacts with various people, it’s natural that she would not want to leave that community. Even if the place is not familiar to you, it has undoubtedly become “home” to her.

Your mother’s way of thinking also seems to indicate a certain level of preparedness for sudden illness, injury or accidents, with the understanding that you may not be able to rush to her aid immediately.

It might be good to respect her decision. Instead of treating her like an elderly person, why not have conversations about fun activities or popular trends?

It’s also important for you to look after your own health and to regularly update your mother about your situation.

Yoko Sanuki, lawyer