Sometimes I Feel Like a Piece of Bologna

Monday, March 05, 2007

Even Frail Parents Should Have a Say

Liz Taylor in Medical Week News suggests that our elderly parents have the right to make their own decisions, even if we consider those decisions to be wrong. That’s a hard word, but one that offers respect to them.

She says, “We are parents to our children, but we are never parents to our parents. It may feel that way sometimes, but it's important to know that a healthy relationship with our parent even when we're providing care is still an adult-to-adult transaction. You can disagree with your mom, consider her her own worst enemy, tell her she's heading toward disaster. But she doesn't have to "mind" you or pay attention.”

We have a friend whose father was a life long missionary. Now retired, he still travels the world, visiting missionaries. I asked my friend how he handles this. After all, his dad is getting older. He says, “I know that someday I may have to go to Africa to retrieve him, but I know he’ll go out doing what he loves the most. I owe him that much.”

Interesting perspective. I try to remember that in dealing with my mom. What is it that causes me to want to protect and control her? I know I don’t want her to suffer from foolish mistakes, but who am I to insist that her decisions are foolish?

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4 comment(s):

Interesting is right. Well, there's foolish and then there's dangerous. We HAD to "protect and control" my mother when her driving became dangerous to herself and others. She thought she was "just fine." Do elderly parents with dementia have the right to make their own decisions? Sometimes we DO have to override them because we want them to stick around.

By Anonymous Susan, at 12:01 AM  

Yes, with the driving, we have to consider the other people on the road.

When my mom had a stroke last summer, the nurse case manager pushed us to get the health care power of attorney invoked. She didn't want my mother to refuse going to a nursing home. We went along with this, although we didn't think that my mother's intellect was impaired. Later, we had to have this revoked, because she couldn't go into the assisted living with it in place.

My husband, who is an physician, said he had never seen anyone actually have the power of attorney invoked.

Mom was reluctant to go the the nursing home, then later, she was reluctant to go the the assisted living. I'm not sure what we would have done if she had been totally stubborn about this.

By Blogger P.S. an after-thought, at 5:23 AM  

Yes, this article differentiates between elders with dementia and those who are simply frail. We are looking toward dealing with the drivers license, but with Mom four hours away all alone and need to visit Dad every day, that could be a death sentence. We need to balance that death sentence with an accident. This isn't fun. Let's play something else for awhile!

By Blogger Pat, at 5:03 PM  

This is tough, and some might disagree with me. The ONE thing your parents owe you is peace of mind. You may disagree with some of their choices, and you don't get to interfere, as long as you don't worry about their safety.

By Anonymous Lisa Dunn, at 7:10 PM  

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