IN Phoenixville Area Fall 2017 - Page 70

a family member with dementia, that I would never allow her to become like that. But I had no idea how to deal with this demand once the dementia actually started. “Each time I would leave my mom I was determined to be more patient the next time I saw her. Then I would fall back into frustration within minutes of seeing her again. This pattern would repeat itself throughout my visits. “One positive result occurred, however, after experiencing all of the feelings of guilt with my mother’s situation: I was clear that placing my father in an assisted-living situation was the right thing to do. Because I had bound myself in guilt with my mother, the questions surrounding my father’s relocation were mostly answered.” Marjorie’s father first moved to an independent living retirement community after his wife passed away. When he sustained multiple bone fractures in a fall, he then moved into the adjacent nursing home. “With my mother I felt I was always failing, a concept that is, frankly, very foreign to me in my professional and personal worlds. I remember once, early on, I glanced over while I was cooking for her and noticed that she appeared really lost. I asked her what was wrong and she said, ‘I don’t have a role anymore.’ “I said, ‘Of course you do—you’re my mother.’ But her comment really stung.” Putting anyone into a new environment can be an uncomfortable and even distressing experience. Suddenly, while at their most vulnerable, we “ask” our parents to form new acquaintances, trust new professional caregivers, navigate new schedules and acclimate to new environments. These demands will challenge them acutely while we, as children thrust into primary decision- making roles, can only hope they’ll make the best of the new situation. MOVING PAST GUILT According to Dr. Stephan Quentzel, Medical Director for Psychiatry at the Institute for Urban Family Health in New York City, Marjorie and Lynn’s feelings are typical of caregivers who are faced with relocating their parents. “There are plenty of factors that go into feeling guilty,” Quentzel explains. “Emotions range from feeling inadequate to feeling overly responsible. “Most significantly, we want our parents to remain decision makers and to be omniscient, to regain the sense of normalcy. We’re upset when we have to take over their roles. We 68 1.800.558.0940, ext. 202 TO ADVERTISE | Phoenixville Area