Dear Mary
Heads in the sand.

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Dear Mary,

My siblings have their heads in the sand when it comes to our Mom’s declining health.  They have been told by her doctor that she is showing signs of Dementia, but they don’t believe him.  They think everything is ok.  Well, it is not ok.

Martin

Hello Martin:

Often adult children live in denial.  To them it is a safer place to be.  No one wants to think that a loved one is really doing poorly. It is often easier to not deal with new realities because sometimes they are ugly and almost always cause change.   It is not uncommon to hear sentences such as:

“Gosh Mom was just fine when I saw her last”.

“Oh, you are just over reacting, Mom is fine, just a bit slower”.

Especially since her doctor has stated that things are changing for the worse, it is shocking that your siblings still don’t get it.  The longer people ignore the truth, the worse it will be.  Frequently, it is only when something really bad happens that adult children finally wake-up that Mommy is changing.  Often then, adult children say, “Gosh, how could this have happened, she was doing just fine”?

Remember too that it is not uncommon for a person with declining health to suddenly become a good actor.  They know how to fake looking and feeling well.  They fight for their independence with every breath.  Unless one of you see your Mother every single day, can you really track and comment on her health?  Even a regular visitor three or four times a week, does not see it all.  Out of town visitors are even easier to fool.  Mom is really excited to see them and really puts on a show.  As soon as the visit is over, the acting stops.

I suggest that as many of your siblings as possible make an appointment to meet with her doctor (without your Mother being present).  This is a meeting to discuss her, not to have her participate in the conversation.  Make sure that the person noted in her POA documents is present.  The doctor may not want to talk about his patient otherwise.

You can also work with a third party to help further access your Mother’s capabilities.  This will give you greater perspectives on her issues and needs.

The longer your siblings continue to keep their heads in the sand, the greater luckily hood that trouble will follow.

My favorite expression is:  “Deeds speak”.  Your siblings abilities to meet with professionals to discuss your Mother’s health, will speak to how willing, ready and able your family is prepared to embrace change.

Elder Abuse?  You have to ask yourself if doing nothing to deal with the declining health of your Mother is neglect (which is a form of Elder Abuse). It could be argued that your siblings are actually causing your mother to be abused by neglecting to deal with the reality of her declining health.  Your siblings would be shocked and hurt of course if you accused them of elder abuse, but could it be true? Could more be done to protect and take care of her?

Do whatever it takes to get your family moving towards a safer, more secure life for your Mom.  Why not show them our on-line conversation?

 

 

Mary

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Caregiving Matters

Mary is a daughter. She also Chairs our charity. Mary has also held Director roles on three other boards, most recently with The Palcare Network of York Region.

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