Writing a Parent’s Remembrance, Part II

Other Posts Relating to Remembrances:   After a Parent’s Death: Writing a Remembrance, Part II,    After an Aging Parent’s Death: Obituaries and Remembrances,  Mother’s Memorial Service

We write remembrances after a loved one dies. Written memorials or tributes, usually penned by family members, are used in committal or memorial services or simply shared in conversation. Over time my family has discovered that people who are unable to attend a memorial event often ask for a copy. The purpose of a remembrance is to:

  • Share a bit more of a person’s life, especially for people who only knew the person in one arena.
  • Remind people of significant, lively, and enjoyable events in a person’s life
  • Make people, whether in a memorial service or in conversation, smile and remember.
  • Collect memories and stories to hold close during the early months of mourning.
  • Express gratitude for a person’s life.

So how did we go about writing our remembrance of Mother? Right after mother died we spent time jotting down our thoughts and remembering our conversations with her.  But there were other ways. Continue reading

Writing a Parent’s Remembrance, Part I

Other Posts Relating to Remembrances:   After a Parent’s Death: Writing a Remembrance, Part II,    After an Aging Parent’s Death: Obituaries and Remembrances,  Mother’s Memorial Service

When an elderly parent accumulates serious medical diagnoses, becomes weaker, and is sick more often than not, set aside time to review memories and talk about life. Engage in discussions, as a friend of ours suggested, while reflecting over photo albums, and consciously start conversations with “remember when” statements. Our friend’s advice was spot on, and my only suggestion to others is to begin these discussions as soon as possible.

We never addressed dying specifically because Mother did not want to go there, and there was no need. Instead, while she was still alert, though quite ill, we rambled through memories and recalled activities, favorite vacations, much-loved music, her granddaughter, favorite books, funny family stories, and so much more. Short but frequent conversations made us all marvel at her many well-lived years. Mother suffered from dementia, so pictures, photograph albums, and possessions like opening favorite books, served as conversation starters. Yet once we embarked on a topic, remarkable memories and rich details were often recalled, and more importantly, mother enjoyed herself.

Later on, after Mother died, these conversations comforted us, but they also enabled us to write warm tributes and remembrances that perfectly described parts of her life. Our discussions about Mother’s love of Broadway shows, her enjoyment of museums, and her love of New York City, helped us think less about the difficult last weeks of her life, and enabled us to write the following remembrance a few days after she died. Continue reading

Caregiving – Coordinating the Stakeholders

As a parent ages, the range of people who offer support expands dramatically. The older the person the larger the group can be, with multiple doctors, caregivers, assisted living staff, family members, friends, and therapists. A broad range of supporters is a plus, but a designated coordinator, someone in possession of the big picture, is essential to prevent caregiving mistakes and/or medical errors.

When an individual has all of these supporters and takes a range of medications, the situation can resemble the “wild west,” with people galloping in different directions, even though each person has in mind the best interests of the aging parent. Imagine my delight when I discovered this illustration, from the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine’s Geriatric Patient Safety Initiative depicting what I call the “wild web” of supporters. This can be a useful tool for an aging child.

Continue reading

Geriatrician Crisis in the U.S.

Found this interesting article about the need for geriatrician. Here’s the intro.

“Think about it… If the number of students doubled and the number of teachers didn’t, that would be a problem, right? Well, a parallel to this scenario is actually taking place in the health care world: our elderly population will double by 2030 and the number of geriatrician will remain the same.”

from Baby Boomers Beware: Geriatrician Shortage Could Impact Care

Check out the above article. Here is the link to the home page of the University of South Florida Health website.

For boomers like my husband and me, who are providing ongoing support for aging parents, this is an ominous sign of the future in store for us. I wonder if there will be significant changes in the next 20 years?

Quality of Care Leader May Head Medicare

According to the New York Times, President Obama will be appointing an experienced and collaborative physician as the new administrator of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). The article by Robert Pear, Obama Chooses Health Policy Scholar as the Director for Medicare and Medicaid, reported that Donald M. Berwick, M.D. is to be nominated by the President to head CMS, an agency that pays for major amounts of aging parent medical care.

Of significance to aging children who help to support aging parents is that, in addition to his public policy credentials, Dr. Berwick is an articulate advocate for patient-centered medicine. Below is a four-minute You-Tube segment from a July 2009 presentation that he made about what patient-centered care should mean. He addresses issues that are achingly familiar to any aging child who has accompanied an adult parent to a hospital or clinic — how to ensure the dignity of that family member.

Continue reading

Aging Parents: Touch Screen Technology Innovations

Aging parent supporters and caregivers know how gratifying it is to sit with an elderly parent looking through old photograph albums. While we all love to do this, uncomfortable moments can arise when parents with dementia experience anxiety when they cannot remember an event.

Now comes interesting dementia research reported in the March 25, 2010 PHYSORG.com news service about the technology research with elderly adults with dementia who use touch screens, using this simple interactive technology to look at pictures, thereby stimulating memories. From the generic to the more specific. Researchers were based at research at the University of St. Andrews and the University of Dundee in Scotland. The project has led to the development of the Computer Interactive Reminiscence and Conversation Aid (CIRCA) and Living in the Moment computer system, both used to help people with dementia identify and retrieve memories. Check out the article, which also includes a YouTube video.

Continue reading