Eldercare Regrets


by Joy Loverde

I’m very much looking forward to a keynote that I’m giving at the end of this month in Scottsdale, Arizona. The sponsor of the event is the Seattle Study Club and it’s their 2010 Symposium for members. While the audience will primarily consist of professionals in the dental industry,  the truth of the matter is that once we all shed our professional titles, we equalize the playing field and acknowledge that ninety-nine percent of us in  the room will consist of family caregivers.

In preparation for my keynote, I’ve been dabbling with a variety of ideas to present to this astute group of people, and in this process I’ve been spending a lot of time being introspective regarding my forty decades in the world of eldercare and family caregiving. It’s clear to me, now more than ever, that I’ve made my fair share of family caregiving mistakes. Rest assured, nothing drastic or tragic happened on my watch when mistakes were made. It’s just that looking back I know that I would have done things differently than the way I do things now.

I remember when my over-80 mother-in-law’s driving started to alarm me. Bess thought nothing of driving over a hundred miles every weekend to visit us from her home town.  At that time I did not take into consideration that she was a perfectly good and capable drive. I said to myself that she should not be driving under those circumstances because of her age.  If that’s not ageism I don’t know what is.  And there I was thinking I was doing the right thing by telling her son that she needs to stop driving. And I was wrong. I regret the arguments that soon entailed between us after her son let the cat out of the bag.  Bess brought up the subject of her driving every chance she got until the day she died (peacefully in her 90’s).

I’ll write about more of my regrets in the family caregiving as I think of them. And in the meantime, I look forward to this introspective process of looking back, and forgiving myself again, and again, and again.

Do you have any regrets? I'd love to hear about them in the comments below.


1 Response

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  2. I don't know if that was ageism or just legitimate concern on your part. In your mother-in-law's case, you obviously learned that her age didn't influence her driving ability. I would imagine that many more adult children have different regrets about not taking away the keys or the car from the parent who has impaired ability to drive. We have many drivers in South Florida that should not be driving and endangering themselves and everyone else on the road. In many cases, age is not a factor. - there are plenty of young and middle aged people that shouldn't be driving either . When adult children are concerned about their parents' ability to drive and don't want to upset the parent, I suggest that they make an anonymous report to the Department of Motor Vehicles. The driver will then be required to take a written and driving test in order to keep their license, and no family arguments are required.

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