As many of your may know, my brother had a massive stroke and was hospitalized for weeks. He went to a rehab facility (aka nursing home) where he got physical therapy, speech and occupational therapy. When it came time for discharge, a decision had to be made: go to a less than ideal assisted living on a state program for low income people like him? Or, have family pitch in and pay for a much better place? Family decided to come together to pay the cost of care, beyond what his humble disability check would enable him to access.
After he was moved in to this reasonably priced, comfortable spot with great caregivers, in his own neighborhood, the family hassles began anew. “We didn’t know it would cost that much”. They began to argue about why he was there, how long he would be there, how come he was so poor and why didn’t he just move out of the area altogether. One family member said he would essentially move my brother out and dump him on my doorstep 600 miles away, in so many words. “Because of my medical expertise”. Right.
Remove him from his community, his friends, his weekly physical activity that is therapy in itself, his peace of mind and his recent adaptation to a new assisted living situation because you didn’t think it would cost that much? (Incidentally, this person can afford the contribution).
In discussing this with friends and colleagues, I am finding common ground. Many of us are involved with less than generous siblings who would rather criticize and blame than help. When it comes to THEIR money, they go to astonishing lengths to get out of helping the one in great need. If it’s not about finances, the refusal is about help with the work of caregiving.
A dear friend was describing how she had to save her ailing parents, living in a dangerous situation, from themselves and from a dreadful end. She brought them into her own home, in process of being remodeled, because the situation was so dire. With construction going on, there was only one bedroom available. She and her husband slept on a mattress on their living room floor to accommodate her ill parents. The need for care was constant. She asked a sibling for relief, so she and her husband could get away for a weekend. Her sibling said she would come for those days but wanted my friend to pay her for spending time with her parents for the weekend!
I can imagine that many of you have stories like these. Shocking, sickening, sad. Families are not made up of people we pick. That’s why we have friends after all, as they are our chosen family. In my own family, the drama goes on and could escalate. When you have a person with financial need it either brings out the best in family or it definitely brings out the worst. I am seeing some of the worst and one demonstrating the best. It’s very trying, and I am so glad I have a compassionate husband in Dr. Mikol Davis to help me through it. He does not hesitate to help both financially and physically. What a blessing! You can be sure I am grateful for every one of the 31 years we’ve been married.
What will happen going forward? No one knows. I have learned from Mikol that you do not have to engage with all the drama, you do not have to respond to every nutty email or demand from your family. That is a lesson worth sharing. From this, I hope any of you in a similar situation will take something from his wisdom. Not only does he have almost 40 years in the field of mental health, he practices what he preaches. He lives an upright life and does the right thing for its own sake. As for me, I know that I am also doing the right thing. I work on being at peace with that all by itself. I wish for you the peace of mind that comes from appreciating yourself.
Until next time,
P.S. For more on aging in a healthy way or for help if you are struggling with a loved one reaching the end of life, contact us at AgingParents.com for a complimentary 15 minute consultation. Click HERE to sign up now.
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