beyond the video

Caught in the Caregiver Web; Mother and Daughters

Those with Alzheimer's talk about how they cope with the disease in their daily lives.



Video summary
One of the more difficult challenges faced by family caregivers is the conflict between what adult children think is best for their aging parents and what those parents think is best for themselves. In this video, Edith Jones, who lives by herself, had a stroke and was essentially left alone, undiscovered, for 24 hours. (Treatment success increases dramatically if begun within 3 hours.) Although she is largely recovered when this video is filmed, her daughters, Wendy and Michelle, worry about the potential for a recurrence and don't think she should continue living alone. They want Edith to move to a "home." She refuses.

Many of the points raised in this video are common when adult children become fearful about the safety of their parent and that parent is fearful of losing her independence. They are both afraid, but their goals are entirely different.

Applying the video to your own situation

  • Edith says she used to feel that she and her daughters were great friends. Now that her daughters have become people who "want to look after me, and I don't want to be looked after," she sees them as adversaries. Has that happened at any time in the relationship you have as a caregiver? Have you been able to restore a sense of friendship, of being allies?
  • Michelle is a long-distance caregiver who is looking for a way to lighten the responsibilities of her overstressed sister who lives in the same town as their mother. In most families, one adult child tends to shoulder most of the responsibilities for parent care. Is that true in your situation? Have you found ways to "share the care" with others who may not want to be as involved or who live too far away to be as involved?
  • Edith insists that by trying to maintain her independence, her goal is to be less of a burden to her daughters. Wendy said that by trying not to be a burden, she was a burden, meaning that as long as she didn't accept their advice so they could feel confident she was safe, she was a constant worry to them. Have you ever been involved in a similar argument? Did you find a way to resolve it?
  • In many caregiving situations, it is the caregivers who feel guilty for not doing enough, but in this situation Edith felt that Wendy was laying guilt on her, because she refused to do everything Wendy wanted her to do. Has anything similar happened in your situation? Did you resolve it?
  • In the end, Michelle and Wendy stopped trying to issue ultimatums and reached some compromises with their mother. In reality, most of our solutions are temporary and imperfect. What caregiving compromises have you made or could you make, at least for awhile?

Adapted from: Curtain Call; Riverstone Productions, Toronto, ON, Canada

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Beyond the Video

Edith says she used to feel that she and her daughters were great friends. Now that her daughters have become people who "want to look after me, and I don't want to be looked after," she sees them as adversaries.