Dawn MacNutt

When Parents Fade Away

Dawn MacNutt

Dawn MacNutt, MSW, Geriatric Care Manager

My client Lillian was a retired psychiatrist who had been living in an assisted living home for four years.  She was receiving the maximum amount of care offered there, and now needed additional help from a private pay aide.  The cost of this care plan was higher than the family had originally budgeted so they hired me – a Geriatric Care Manager – to research their options.

Lillian’s son was her Power of Attorney.  He and his mom had shared a close relationship, including lively debates about politics, current events, religion and many other topics.  But he noticed that his mother was becoming distant and seemed to be trapped in a mind that continued to betray her.  When I met her at the facility she was looking blankly through the window, and her aide was watching television. I knew that at the very least I needed to find her an aide with whom she could connect.  After investigating her options and having many talks with the family, we were able to move Lillian to an apartment close to her son.  We hired two aides who would give her 24 hour care.  We ordered the New York Times delivered every day so that the aides could read to her and perhaps engage in some conversation.  And finally, we made adjustments on her long-term care insurance and prescription drug coverage. These steps brought us closer to the goal of keeping her happy, safe and within a reasonable budget.

I know it is not easy to watch your parents age, especially when they begin to become overwhelmed by the simple activities of daily living, such as bathing, dressing, feeding themselves, personal hygiene and grooming, etc.  When people start to experience this, their personalities start to fade and the person you knew seems to start to disappear.

After many years in the elder care field, I can offer this simple bit of advice.  Keep your loved ones engaged in the things that are important to them.  You will find that this fading away won’t happen as quickly and as often.  If I can help you with any questions about what you can do for your parent, spouse or significant other, please contact us.