An Uncomfortable Conversation with Mom
Sarah took care of dad when he was sick, and felt her siblings did not do enough to help. Steve was the power of attorney for dad, and his older sister Cheryl thought that should be her responsibility. Mom wanted to engage hospice, and the kids were not ready to “give up on dad.” Roberta raised three intelligent, independent and successful kids, yet they spoke to her in a very condescending tone as if she could not make decisions for herself. Family dynamics can be complex.
When I started developing Roberta’s care plan, one of my objectives was to unite the family. Roberta had some serious health issues and she was going to need the support of her kids. She also wanted to have peace knowing that her children would stay close and support each other after her death. There was genuine love between these family members, but it was masked with accumulated bitterness over the years and unprocessed grief from dad’s recent death.
I frequently ask seniors to write out their thoughts so that we can organize, review, process and present them to their family. Often these words become a legacy to their children. Roberta kept it simple and to the point. She was a poet in my opinion. She called her list “An Uncomfortable Conversation with Mom.”
• You chose your friends, but God chose your family.
• Love hard. Don’t let petty disagreements stop you from loving your family.
• Communicate openly and honestly, seek compromise and don’t let disagreements define your relationships.
• Express your love and appreciation even when you disagree. Let your family know you appreciate them every chance you get. They will be gone before you know it.
• Call each other. You may not have many phone calls left.
• Don’t let your success make you forget that people are more important than money.
When I asked for a family meeting to discuss mom’s care plan and review her letter, the kids were reluctant, but compliant. By the end of the night they were crying, emotionally exhausted, and probably a little buzzed from Cheryl’s three bottles of wine. Our three hour session resulted in a care plan that everyone agreed would give mom the best chance of “Finishing Strong” on her dementia journey.
Dementia does not usually follow a straight line. Roberta’s disease progression was more like climbing a jungle gym – and she fell off quickly. There were moments of clarity and excellent recall of long term memories. This made her son happy. There were difficult days when she forgot how to chew her food. This made her daughters cry. Throughout the entire process, her children loved on her and supported her. As mom got worse, the kids got closer. They loved on mom and each other. After her recent passing, they honored her life by reading mom’s “Uncomfortable Conversation” at her funeral. Mom got her peace.
At CarePatrol, our job is to help you navigate these situations and to find the care solution best suited for your family. We understand what you are going through, and no one is better at helping seniors and their families deal with the realities of aging than CarePatrol.
If you need help finding care for a senior, please give us a call. Our services are free, and we are here to help.
You can reach Eric Klein, CSA, BCPA, CPRS at 847-653-1213.