By way of introduction, I became an advisor to families dealing with “aging parents or grandparents” after dealing with my own.
The amount of legal work, CPA work, and residential home issues, facing Dad at the age of 90, as his wife’s mental health declined, was staggering. My father, like many husbands and dads, hid the severity of Mom’s dementia for several years. Finally, the kids realized he was being hit, scratched, screamed at by a person who looked like his bride, but no longer was. My brother and I sprang into action.
First we had to face Dad and tell him they were moving. He had a choice, Atlanta, GA (brother) or Miami, FL. (yours truly). He chose his son. Now, we had to go find an assisted living center convenient for my brother and his wife. No easy task. We fly Mom and Dad to Atlanta, they move in and it becomes apparent that mother is in no way cognizant. She needs 24-hour care — this means Mom and Dad will live apart after 60 years of marriage. This is a gut-wrenching emotional experience — for everyone involved.
Meanwhile, I am flying in weekly from Miami to Houston preparing their home for sale. That means going through 30 years of life and deciding what to keep, what to sell, what to throw away. Another emotional experience…looking at clothes your parents wore to fetes, church, weddings…reviewing photos of Dad as a young sailor in WWII, Mom and Dad leaving the church on their wedding day. Tears form as I write this.
Bottom line — it is horrible! Yet, in many ways the “gut-wrenching” feeling was cathartic — we know Mom and Dad raised terrific kids, each with his/her own strengths. None of us live close to each other, but when needed we rally together to become an indefensible scrum. Mom and Dad are now as good as they can be but it’s only because we did not allow anyone to abuse them. I don’t believe people want to abuse seniors, but the process allows it and many take advantage.
Finally, my brother took my father into his home while we were dealing with Mother’s many escape attempts and bad nursing homes.
Today, Dad is in an assisted living center (his idea) where many WWII vets live and mother is in the best possible nursing home environment for her situation.
H. Frances Reaves, Esq., a graduate of the University of Miami Law School, spent 10 years as a litigator/lobbyist. Today, she Is an accomplished business woman who, when her parents could no longer take care of themselves, learned the ins and outs of senior care (or the lack thereof). She founded Parent Your Parents to assist seniors and their children through the myriad pitfalls and options of “senior care” in the 21st Century. If you have any questions or comments contact Frances at firstname.lastname@example.org.