Monday, December 21, 2020
JAMA network published this article, What Caring for My Aging Parents Taught Me That Medical Education Did Not is a first person account by the author of what he went through with his parents, and what he learned from the experience.
Slowly, however, things started to change. My parents seemed to have increasing difficulty staying organized. Instead of me calling them, they began calling me—at first weekly, then daily, and then multiple times per day. My father’s blood pressure was out of control, and he could not tell me what medications he was taking. My mother’s scoliosis, a problem since adolescence, now caused her to have significant difficulty walking. She looked thinner each time I saw her. Their physicians seemed not to be communicating well with each other. Finding their cell phones became a daily project.
Then came the identity theft: strange addresses on their credit card statements, charges to their accounts from Florida businesses when they were not living there, and even their telephone being answered by the identity thief himself. Managing these problems became my part-time job. Since credit card fraud departments are typically open only during business hours, I would sometimes spend afternoon hours on hold from my hospital office, waiting for someone to pick up, rather than charting, talking to a consultant, or doing research.
The move from their home of 30 years was the next step. They simply could not manage the house. Once spotlessly clean, it was now increasingly cluttered with tchotchkes from circa 1993. The garden was overgrown, the dishes dirty. After work, I typically spent an hour every day helping organize, donate, and throw away their belongings, so that we could put the house up for sale. Thankfully, the renovations went smoothly and the house sold quickly. Although not without drama, my parents moved to a retirement facility nearby.
The author created a list of what he wished he had known as he cared for his parents:
If you have the feeling that something may be an issue for your aging parents, it is almost definitely an issue.
- Make sure you know about all your parents’ financial accounts.
- You (and they) may need emotional support from people you would not expect.
- Advocate for your parents in the best way you can, but do not expect everything to be cut and dried.
- Use technology to help you (and them).
- Do not expect too much from the medical system.
- You must have the difficult conversations if the physicians will not.
- You may need to get them daily help.
- Do not forget to keep some perspective and occasionally laugh.
Great article! Thanks to Amos Goodall, Esq. for sending me the link.