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A Mother's Day Message

Google the term “Mother’s Day and elder care” and what do you get?

You get 279 million search results, most focused on Mother’s Day activity ideas for senior citizens.

Yes, Mother’s Day is a day to shower moms with love and affection to show our gratitude for their care over the years. However, we think that Mother’s Day is something more, especially if our moms are getting up there in years and they aren’t as healthy and active as they used to be.

Mother’s Day is a time to reflect on the relationship you have with your elderly mother, and a time to acknowledge the role reversal that so often happens as our mothers grow old.

If you are on good terms with your mom, you may be realizing that the days she has already lived far outnumber the days she has left. Every day is precious.

If your relationship with your mother is more difficult, you may be feeling sadness that the closeness you always hoped for may never happen.

In either case, if your mom’s health is declining, you may have to step in to help. Then, at some point, if her health worsens, you may need to do more than help. You must become the parent. This can be a difficult transition, one that many family caregivers find hard to manage, especially if they are used to deferring to Mom’s wishes or have always longed for Mom’s approval.

Let’s say your mom is living alone at home. She has dementia. She wrecked the car for the third time this month, she caught the house on fire, she refuses to bathe, and she gave $10,000 to a scammer. You and your siblings are worried sick about what trouble she will get into next. Every day brings a new emergency. You know you need to do something, but Mom—the family matriarch, the fixer, the decider, the BOSS—refuses to admit there’s a problem.

There is a problem. Your mom’s brain is broken and it’s now your job to make sure she is safe and well cared for. To make that happen, you will end up stepping into the role of parent, something that may feel acutely uncomfortable, especially if you have always looked to Mom for approval and validation. That discomfort can keep you from getting Mom the kind of care she needs, which can hasten her decline.

Caring for an elderly loved one with worsening dementia is often likened to caring for a toddler. In both cases, you’re in charge. It’s up to you to give them as much independence as they can handle safely. Your toddler didn’t like it when you kept them from running across a busy street or said no to buying candy in the grocery store’s checkout lane. Your elderly mother living with dementia won’t like it when you take her to the doctor for an evaluation, take away the car keys, bring in outside help, move her to a memory care facility, or take any action designed to keep her safe.

If you’re dealing with the parent/child role reversal, we see you. And on this Mother’s Day, we salute you. You’re doing one of the most difficult jobs around. You’re being a mother (or a parent) to your own mother. It takes courage, compassion, and a sense of humor. It also takes support. If you’ve become the parent to your own mother, father, or another elderly loved one, Kimbrough Law can give you that support. All it takes is a phone call to get started on the road to peace of mind. We are here for you. 706.850.6910


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