The Family, Sans Parents, Meets

Denise

The Family, Sans Parents, Meets

Denise
ducklings-15851_640My four siblings and I met last Sunday (February 8) to talk about our parents and their current and future care needs.

We met at our sister's home for brunch and began the meeting with a champagne toast. A sister-in-law joined us (the only spouse to take part although all were invited and included) so we numbered six. Our meeting went well--we shared updates, information and commitments to help and support each other. We'll meet again during my dad's hospitalization and then again in August. Future meetings will include our parents; we just wanted one with only the siblings to get everyone on the same page about the current situation and to openly discuss the future, which includes our parents' end-of-life care.

My sister who hosted the meeting created our agenda and I took notes. I've created a calendar with our parents' appointments and our schedules that we all can access. I've also provided copies of important documents (advance directives, doctors' contact information, list of meds) to my siblings so they have just in case. Our goal is to keep everyone up-to-date, to share responsibilities and to help when needed.

My oldest brother and I arrived at the same, which gave me a chance to ask him privately if he would feel comfortable updating us on his medical situation. In late 2011, he was diagnosed with a rare blood cancer and has been in treatment since. Currently, he receives chemo every-other-month, a treatment that's considered maintenance. His diagnosis came as the result of routine blood work during his annual check-up. He was asymptomatic so the diagnosis was a huge shock. When he told us about the diagnosis, he avoided using the word "cancer" and asked us to keep his diagnosis private as he had not discussed it with his children, who were 17 and 14 at the time.

He updates my parents regularly, who then pass on the information to me. I spoke with my brother after his diagnosis and then sporadically checked in over the years. Our meeting about our parents seemed like a good opportunity to also talk about how he's doing.

He readily agreed to my suggestion to talk about his diagnosis--which was the first time all of us spoke about it together. His children are now aware of his treatment, which I think we all felt better knowing. We asked questions about how he's feeling, how we can help, how he likes his care team. He feels and looks good (he's still asymptomatic) and the treatments do not affect his quality of life. The only impact of his disease is that he has to take the day off when he receives treatment, which happens at the oncologist's office. We'll now add his treatment dates to the shared calendar.

Honestly, I'm not so worried about my parents, especially after our meeting. Sure, my siblings and I may have disagreements and tough moments together. I'm confident we'll just work through. I am more worried about my brother. He's doing well now and we pray that will continue. The reality, though, is that he will decline.

My parents, at 83 and 80, have enjoyed long lives. I worry my brother will live a shortened one. I worry he will be the next caree.

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MovieGoer

How wonderful that you all are handling things this way. What role models you are!

Jean

Denise,\r\n\r\nI'm so glad that your siblings have banded together to tackle the future and all are aboard at this point. After all these years of coaching and supporting other caregivers, I certainly hope you get all the support you need... and that you reach out for help when you need it and don't fall into the \"Doctor, heal thyself\" thoughts. \r\n\r\nI know what a heavy heart you must have thinking about your brother's future... If ever I can help you in anyway, please reach out.

Hussy

Thanks for giving us a glimpse into your private life and how your family has come together to make plans for your parents. It irks me no end that my mother-in-law, who has a number of serious health issues and has really declined in the last two years, refuses to consider her future and none of the kids want to poke the proverbial bear and incur her considerable wrath. They really need to present a united front and tackle some tough issues now before we end up in crisis mode. Such as the fact that my MIL really needs to move out of her house and into some type of assisted living. (She has made it abundantly clear that she would not want to live with any of the kids.) The house is simply too much for her to keep up anymore. And she shouldn't be driving. She's an awful driver who can barely see over the steering wheel. I feel like its only a matter of time before she falls and breaks her hip at home (probably when she's not wearing her life alert which is most of the time) or kills somebody driving. Before my husband became ill she always wanted him to come over and do things that she is no longer able to do, like change a light bulb because she can't very well climb a stepladder with her cane to reach the ceiling. He complied as time permitted but now with his illness those days are over and now that I'm taking care of him and our home and working two jobs, I certainly don't have the time. One sister and her husband do things for the MIL on occasion but the other sister and her husband live out of state.\r\n\r\nI am so thankful my father is the complete opposite. He has all his affairs in order and likes to joke that if he drops dead tomorrow nobody will have to do anything because it's all been taken care of.

jan

Thank you for sharing a private family moment. You write as though it was very casual but I can imagine there were many levels of meeting going on, that are not so easy. I hope the meeting gave you what you need most, being reassured of your family supporting each other in this journey, and all together you'll be able to support your brother through whatever comes.

Lillie Fuller

Wow, you guys are awesome to be able to work together like this and care enough about each other and your parents to do it!!!

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