This article summary originally appeared on I’ll Be Right Here, where Fern Pessin blogs about her caregiving experience and shares caregiving resources. Fern has also turned what she’s learned into a guidebook for anyone caring for an aging parent. Used with permission.
A lot of my work with caregivers focuses around starting the awkward conversations about topics we hate to bring up: driving/not driving, moving or staying at home, end-of-life wishes, talking to doctors and medical care, and so on. And then, once begun, how to engage the whole family and find the resources necessary to create a plan that can be implemented in the future to ensure fulfilling days, secure financial arrangements, and a healthy lifestyle for your parents.
The referenced blog post talks about keeping someone’s mind active and learning more about your family while they’re still well enough to share their memories. In addition to all the great information you’ll learn about your parents, you’ll also be helping them keep their mind sharp. It’s like exercising your body–good for you no matter when you do it!
I interview my parents and keep learning all kinds of things. There was the disturbing revelation that my mother believes she was molested by a contractor working on her home when she was a child. Or finding out that during our cross-country trip (when I was a child) my parents gave me money (and secretly tipped the hostess) and sent me to take my sister and brother out to dinner so my parents could stay in the hotel room and have sex! Or the time my dad said something rude to my mother, and she’s still angry about it 15 years later.
But there’s also news about relatives I didn’t know we had. An interesting family connection to Lucille Ball. The fact that my father flew planes. Who knew? My parent’s recollections of how my siblings and I interacted are different than my memories. What can you find out?