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How Do You Know When It’s Time to Dowsize Mom’s House

December 4, 2010

At lunch yesterday, we were discussing our parents – the good, the bad, the ugly.  Some are good with money, others not.  Some are in great health, others not. Some are fine taking care of themselves, others not.

This entire discussion began after learning that my friends mother had passed. This mother was managed well by her husband but, when he passed a few years ago, her demons were let loose. She had periods of paranoia, she gave away valuables, she disappeared.  She was manipulated by the bad brother, she was taken advantage of,  she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

The family knew that mother’s memory was sporatic but no one knew how to broach the subject. The mother was feeling afraid and unsure but she covered it with false bravado. The family was concerned for mother’s safety but didn’t feel that it was their place to say anything. After all, she was the mother.

The tricky thing with Alzheimer’s is that the longer you leave the elephant in the living room, the harder it is to talk about it. Erratic behavior becomes the norm and the patient is less able to coherently discuss the issue.

In the beginning there are many “opportunities” to “notice” that something is off and to discuss it. I don’t recommend asking a question like “did you just run the car into the garage wall?’ The standard reaction to this would be one of defense and then a constructive conversation is lost.

Instead, try something like “mom, that’s the third time you’ve bumped into something with the car this week. I’m worried that the next time could be really serious” ‘It might be time to find other ways to get your errands done”

My grandmother was super stubborn and super independent. She refused to move close to the family and she refused to give up the car. When she passed I finally got a close up look at her car. It had scrape marks about two feet from the ground and all the way around the car. She had rubbed and bumped and smooshed every panel of that car. Today I am just grateful that she didn’t take herself and someone else out with her.

When it came time for my granddaddy, the second time he ended up in a ditch and had to get the car towed, my dad took his keys.

Each person’s parents age in different ways and each person handles it differently. Just remember, when your folks start reminding you more of your kids than of responsible adults, it may be time to start thinking about downsizing!
So, how do

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