Recently, I was at a conference on stress management and over-heard two women (baby boomers) talking about the difficulty they were having dealing with their aging mothers. In one case, the mother lived alone. In the other, the mother lived with her daughter and her family.
Both women talked about their guilt and feeling of not knowing what to do. Their mothers both had some sort of dementia resulting in expressions of anger, depression and just plan misery. Nothing seemed to help their mothers. And the daughters felt alone in trying to determine what to do. Their other siblings were not as involved and, you know how it goes, some people feel that if you have to ask, it just doesn’t help anyway!
So, what is the answer? Let’s face it, we are living longer, particularly with the advances in medicine. Do we need more adult day care centers? Certainly, support groups for the care-givers might help. This is a bigger issue than just one family! And the support group could help the family develop a plan so that the burden does not fall on just one person. All family members need to share in the caring. If the daughter/son does not have any other siblings to help, the care-giver should have access to respite care.
I am one of the lucky ones. My mother lived a happy, healthy life until she was 89. She was smart, independent and loved by all of her children. At the end, her body just grew tired and she went “went to sleep” surrounded by her three children. While I feel very lucky, I also empathize with those families whose parents are not healthy and/or have siblings who neither share in the care nor agree with the care.