Guest Blog by Kathryn Watson, Life Coach and an ElderCare Advisor
If I have heard this song and dance once I have heard it a thousand times. In fact it’s the same song my family sang over and over until……
Until the crisis happened.
No one wanted to upset my mother-in law, Pat, especially her two sons. It was easier to pretend everything was okay and to decide to let her decide when the best time to move would be.
The problem with that was Pat had the beginning of dementia and was simply not capable of making a rational decision. Like many others with dementia, Pat was afraid to leave the comfort of the surroundings she had lived in for over 50 years. She knew that in a new place she may have trouble finding her way around and she was frightened.
We just thought she was being stubborn and hard-headed! We constantly tried to rationalize with her, telling her all the pros of moving and the cons of staying in her home. We might as well have been banging our heads against a brick wall!
Then I heard an expert on dementia speak. Wow, was that an eye opener! She said that changes in the brain occur in someone with dementia. These changes often block the part of the brain that is able to rationalize and think logically. The person with dementia is unable to access this part of their brain. I also found out that someone who had a series of TIA’s (or mini-strokes) was particularly vulnerable to vascular dementia that could affect this part of the brain.
Suddenly everything began to make sense! Unfortunately, by the time I had this figured out the crisis happened. A bad fall and a 30 day stay in a skilled nursing for rehab meant Pat no longer had a choice. It was time to move!
What I discovered was that even though there was clearly a good reason for moving her it didn’t matter. She was still upset and angry that we had moved her from her home. We could have moved her before a crisis and she would have been just as angry as she was after. The difference was the stress we put ourselves through, traveling back and forth every few weeks to check on her, managing care help from long distance and then having to pack her house in a hurry while she was in the hospital.
If your aging parent is refusing to move and it is impacting your life, it is time to set boundaries and make the move happen. Yes, she or he will be upset at first but they will get over it. Talk to other families who have moved an aging parent and I bet most of them will tell you the same story. Doing the right thing is not always the easy thing.
Kathryn Watson is the author of Help! My Parents Are Aging and Help! I Can’t Do This Alone. She is a Life Coach and an ElderCare Advisor with a passion for helping families navigate the murky waters of Elder Care. Visit http://www.kathrynwatson.com