“My mother has some memory loss. Though it’s hard to admit, I know she’s no longer safe in her own home. I want her to be a part of the decision, but she’s just not willing to consider a move. I’m not sure what more I can do.”
I wish I could say this was a conversation I rarely have. Unfortunately I have conversations much like this one almost every day with someone struggling to do the right thing. As the child of an older adult we want to care for our parents to the best of our ab ility, but we also want to honor them in the process. We want to treat them with dignity and respect. We want to return the love they’ve given to us for so many years by doing the right thing. We want to continue to be the “good child” and make them happy. We certainly we do not want them to get angry in the process. But we find ourselves in a situation that makes it virtually impossible to follow the rules of a “good child” as we’ve known them all our life.
As children we knew when mom or dad were happy with us because they reacted in such a way that showed it. When we disappointed our parents or made them angry we knew we were in trouble. Fast forward 40 or 50 years. You know your parent is struggling at home, you know they’re not really safe there, and you certainly know that their quality of life has diminished in recent years due to health changes. Yet, when you talk with them about the possibility of moving they get angry, or sad, or silent. It is much like being 12 again and feeling as if you have been a bad child. But here’s the problem, you aren’t 12 today, and your parent may no longer be able to make the same competent logical decisions they could in their younger years.
As was the case with the conversation I described earlier, your parent may have a medical condition that has robbed them of the ability to process things in the same manner as they used to. With the best of intentions you are waiting for them to see the light, to grasp the logic and see that we are doing what’s best for them. Surely they will see it all makes perfect sense. It cannot happen if they are no longer capable. How fair is it to expect them to?
At some point adult children have to realize that the most honoring thing they can do for their loved one is to do what’s right, make the tough decisions, and love them enough to allow them to get mad. This is not easy, but then a lot of things in life aren’t. What’s even harder is not making the decision, avoiding the confrontation today, only to have a greater crisis occur tomorrow. The old adage “aging is not for sissies” is so true. But let’s be honest, being the adult child who’s trying to do the right thing isn’t a cakewalk either.What to do? Senior care professionals can help you assess your situation and determine your options. They can also guide you through a challenging process; learning about care options and managing your relationship with your parent. If I can be that resource for you I would welcome the privilege. Call me