“Mom?” Amy anxiously called out into the entry hall as she put down her suitcase. Her childhood home looked nothing like the immaculate house her mother maintained after the kids left for college, and the grandchildren were grown. “Mom, are you there?”
“Well, Amy! What a lovely surprise!” Mom exclaimed as she walked in from the back bedroom. One look and Amy knew that something was up. She and her mom excitedly talked about this visit last night on the phone. Her mom’s normally well-coiffed hair was disheveled, and she seemed unsure of herself, maybe even slightly confused. This was just not right. Mom has always been the anchor of the family, cooking all the holiday meals, serving on Boards throughout their community, and the chief source of wisdom for her three children.
“Mom? What’s wrong?” Amy said once again, as fear gripped her heart. Amy’s imagination flew to the dismal thought of her mother, slumped over in a wheel chair in a nursing home. “Nothing is wrong, Amy. I just woke up, and I haven’t had time to dress.” The stains on Mom’s clothes indicated that she hadn’t had time to dress in a few days.
This just didn’t make sense. Amy’s mom had seemed like her old self on the phone, but Amy now realized that her mother was expertly hiding something from her. Mom had always been honest and upfront with Amy. Why didn’t Mom tell her she was not well?
Dr. Vivek Sinha, Chief Medical Officer of Belleview Medical Partners, teaches families that hidden underneath this denial a particular emotion; fear. Fear that illness could rob her of her independence. Fear that she would not be allowed to live in her own home. Fear that her wishes may not be heard.
In Scripture, one of Jesus’ main messages to us is ‘do not be afraid’ or even, ‘do not worry’. In Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus says to the Twelve: “Fear no one. Nothing is concealed that will not be revealed…what I say to you in the darkness, speak to the light.” (Mt. 10:26-27) By facing our fears, and committing ourselves to finding solutions, we can put a healing balm on our troubles.
So, how do we face our fears?
Fear is a sign that something is wrong. If you are in Amy’s situation, remember that your fears, and your mother’s fears, are signs that something needs to be addressed. Fear often get in the way of a parent seeking medical attention, or of families being able to work together to care for their parent. Mikki Firor, a gerontologist specializing in dementia care, teaches families to get to the root of their own fear as well as their parent’s fear so they can more clearly address the health issues at hand.
Fear can make us jump to conclusions. There could be many resolvable reasons for your mother’s current condition. A thorough physical by your family physician could reveal easily resolvable problems that will bring Mom back to wellness. Medication interactions, infections, and other easily treatable aliments can look like dementia, but are not. Bring your concerns to the light by talking to experts like Dr. Sinha and Mikki.
Fear is isolating. Matthew’s Gospel also teaches that we are not alone. Not only does God love us intimately (God has counted the hairs on our head!), you are surrounded by a community of experts whose sole purpose it to care for your Mom. Perhaps you would like a caregiver to come into the home to support Mom. Perhaps she just needs help with the housekeeping, and meal preparation. Maybe she needs a companion, to keep her mind active, and help her with daily living activities. AKOTA Home Care's sole purpose (and soul purpose) is to love and serve you and your Mom.
Let your fear be a motivator. Fear keeps us from the edge of the cliff, and out of a storm’s path. Let your fear be the beginning of finding solutions to improve your parent’s quality of life. Remember, if your Mom won’t address the issues herself, she may very well do it out of love for you:
“Mom,” Amy said with resolve, “I think we should go to the doctor.”
“Amy, I’m fine! There is no reason to bother a doctor just because I haven’t done the dishes.”
“Mom, I appreciate your independent spirit, but it would make me feel more comfortable if we could just go for a quick check up. Could you do this for me?”
What parent can refuse the request of a loving child?
You can find Dr. Sinha at Belleview Medical Partners: www.BelleviewMedical.com
Mikki Firor, MS can be found at: www.trovatollc.com
And you know you can always find us at www.AKOTAHC.com