Caregiver Harbor Advice

Hey, Honey: We Need to Talk About My Mom
Frank Blood

Hey, Honey: We Need to Talk About My Mom

When Living Alone Is No Longer an Option

Karina was finishing some evening work for her job when the phone rang. It was her mother’s neighbor calling from Florida to let her know that the police had just brought her mom home. She had been wandering and confused about where she wanted to go. Fortunately, she hadn’t gone far and had been recognized by a friend from church who gave the police her address. There had been other signals her mom would not be able to live alone much longer but Karina’s family was so busy that having “the talk” was on the back burner. Now she could no longer ignore the need to do something – soon.

“We need to talk about my mom” has almost become cliché, but what happens next is as different as individual snowflakes. Situations are never identical in the world of caregiving and family dynamics can make getting to solutions a difficult, winding and stressful process. You could spend the rest of your mom’s life on the internet trying to figure out exactly what you should do yet not gain any more clarity than when you began. The problems associated with decisions about another family member’s life are so personal that getting to a satisfactory arrangement is often a lonely journey. Don’t despair. You won’t go wrong as long as you take it one day at a time and one small decision at a time.


Good decisions aren't made without effort

Karina’s plans for her career and the goals of her family are at stake so she makes certain that no decisions are made in haste. It isn’t just her husband and two children who are involved; she has a sister and brother who are part of the mix. The most important person, her mother, will be included in every conversation and must remain autonomous, except in matters of safety. If you or somebody you know is facing a similar predicament, you might think about some of the ways Karina and her family will work together to achieve the best possible outcome, all things considered.

Karina is a project manager for an architectural firm and has hopes of making junior partner within the year. Her husband teaches high school Spanish. Their two children are 13 and 8. Her brother lives nearby: her sister lives several states away. Mom cannot remain completely independent which means that someone has to take the lead as her primary caregiver. The first question every family has to answer is, “Who will be in charge of coordinating mom’s care?” For some, it’s an easy decision, for others, it’s a difficult decision and for still others, there is no choice. Karina’s family is fortunate because everyone is concerned for Mother’s welfare first.

Karina talked with her husband and children to explain how she saw the situation and how she felt about the roles they and the rest of the family would have to fill. It was agreed that mom could live with them and that the others would be asked to contribute to her care in ways that made it equitable for everyone.


Bring in everybody

A series of give-and-take conversations with Brother and Sister fleshed-out a plan that Karina would become the primary caregiver but would not jeopardize her career by personally performing all of the day-to-day tasks of caregiving. A professional caregiver would be brought in part-time for that. Brother would help out wherever he could and also provide financial support for some of the costs of the outside caregiver. Sister, because of distance, would provide more financial support. Hubby and kids would provide moral support and make sure that Grandma was happy.

A family meeting of everyone (including mom and in-laws) was scheduled. Mom had already had a talk with her doctor and understood that the best thing for her would be to live with someone who could help her with transportation, remind her to take the right medications at the right times, and so on. While she was sad about giving up some of her freedom, she would be cooperative and not create undue stress for her children. The whole idea of the meeting was to make basic decisions with love and respect for each other.

Yes, this is simplistic, but not Pollyannaish. Families have been going through this since the beginning of time. In the past few decades, as the pace of life has increased and there is less together-time, heated conflict seems be on the rise – but that isn’t the norm. Normal consists of small arguments, a few hurt feelings, a lot of love, a greater respect and understanding of what it takes to be responsible for the well-being of a loved one and acceptance of what everyone involved needs to do.


Have help

The key is love – which includes loving one’s self – and that  means that no caregiver has so much on his or her plate that they give up activities that are meaningful to them. Each must take responsibility for their own welfare first. If you ignore your personal needs, the quality of care you provide will suffer and your value as an employee may deteriorate to the point of reprimand or termination. It isn’t fair to you, your family, your employer or your community to get to a place where you are in danger of becoming burned-out. You have to protect against that at all cost.

The only way to assure that you maintain balance is to get help. Family, friends, neighbors, church groups, public services, and private services are all there to give you what you need so that you can live the kind of life you deserve to have. It’s good for you and everyone else in your family to take advantage of what they have to offer. Karina did and she made junior partner that year.

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1 comments on article "Hey, Honey: We Need to Talk About My Mom"


When the bell of the phone was rang then she was very afraid to check the number of the phone and looking the other wrong numbers. Mom was with police men to arrested then engineering assignment help that was going to do by mom left in the middle of the all case.

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