Angie feels she
made a mistake in not insisting that her mother move into an assisted
living facility a few years earlier. Should she have insisted? Why
don't you review her story and my response, and then think what you
would have done.
I am an only
child, and Mom lives alone in another city. Her brother lives close to
her and has been checking on her every day. Mom has been getting more
confused, but she hasn't seemed bad enough to need assisted living. On
Saturday, my uncle called with absolutely horrible news. Mom fell and
couldn't get up. She lay there several hours before he came to check on
her. She broke her hip! Now I need to get her into a home.
All this time I wanted to do what was best for her. If only I
had insisted on her moving to an assisted living facility here earlier,
she might not have broken her hip. I could have insisted that she come
here and look at the various places available, but I didn't. I feel
soooo guilty. Will you please tell others not to make the same mistakes
Angie W., St. Louis
I'm sorry to hear
about your mother. It isn't your fault, though. There is no way you can
see what will happen in the future. You did your best to do what was
right. Your uncle was checking on her, and he called when there was a
problem. That's what should have happened.
No one can live
their life worrying about what might happen. None of us would
do anything, if that was the way we thought. We wouldn't drive a car
because we might be in an accident. We wouldn't cross a street because
we might get hit by a car. We wouldn't eat in a restaurant because we
might get bad food. We simply wouldn't do anything -- but worry.
From what I have
seen happen with other people in your situation, your mother quite
probably would not have agreed to move into any kind of assisted living
facility in your city. She has family and friends in her city, and
probably wouldn't have agreed to move away from them. She had been
independent all her life, and she didn't want to give that up.
I am sure she has
talked about moving to where you are with other people, but it seemed
like something far in the future. As long as she could prepare her own
food, clean her own house and take care of everything she didn't feel
the need to move. In fact, that's how we all feel.
make the mistake of thinking someone should do something simply because
of their age. I once heard a report on the radio about a high school
student who had the classic signs of a heart attack, but the doctor
didn't check for that because the boy was so young. But he was
having a heart attack.
I also saw
doctors make the mistake of not wanting to treat my father because of
his age. Other doctors treated him, and he continued living a good life
for many years. In reality, some people die in their 20's, some in
their 50's and some in their 100's. You simply can't decide that
someone should do something based on their age. You need to take other
aspects of their life into consideration.
What I am trying
to say is that you made a decision based on how your mother was doing
at the time. You couldn't see the future. You made a good decision.
Anyone can have an accident, and that's exactly what happened to your
mother. Her falling was nothing that could have been predicted and
probably not prevented. You hear about people falling in assisted
living facilities and nursing homes all the time. There is no way to
prevent someone from falling by putting them in an assisted living
facility or a nursing home.
So, please stop
blaming yourself for what happened to your mother. I'm sure you wanted
her to live a good life, a happy life and independent life as long as
possible. You were thinking of her best interest.
But now the real
work begins: You must make arrangements for her to live in a place
where she will be happy and safe. If she moves into an assisted living
facility, she might feel freer than she has because they do
take some of the burden of her care off her shoulders.
When you discuss
this with her, stress that aspect instead of her having to move into an
assisted living facility thinking it is because she isn't safe at home
alone any longer. Stress that she will meet people and socialize more
than she has for years. Stress that it's kind of like a big college
dorm with friends all around. Stress the good instead of the bad.
I wish you the best with your mother.