"In the landscape of our older family members' lives, there will often come an event which forces a changed awareness of an elder's limits. In time, and with the clarity of hindsight, families may come to regard one little decision or unobtrusive happenstance as a kind of watershed in the life of a loved one and the whole family. No matter how carefully an elder may have been attending to her regimen, slippage comes. 'It wasn't like him to do that.' 'These trips are more challenging than they used to be.' 'If only we'd realized how hot it was.'"
-from My Mother, Your Mother
What's the right thing to do for mom or dad as they get older?
In this book, Dr. McCullough focuses on the fastest growing group of elders, those over age 80. This group is particularly important because at present it has more interaction with the medical system and uses more resources per capita than any other age group. And it is about to double its numbers, with a spiraling demand for health services. Diseases which once ended lives relatively quickly have been changed into chronic illness, chronic debilitation, and extended years of decline. The pressure of numbers is creating unprecedented family and societal burdens. Geriatric specialists like Dr. McCullough who have been in the clinical trenches for years have learned that this particular group of elders has the highest likelihood of benefiting from care that is more measured and reflective, which actually stands back from rushed, in-hospital interventions and slows down to balance thoughtfully the separate, multiple, and complex issues of late-life.
My Mother, Your Mother will help you learn how to:
Although taking care of those who have always cared for us is not an easily navigated time of life, My Mother, Your Mother will help you and your family to prepare for this complex journey. This is not a plan for getting ready to die; it is a plan for understanding, for caring, and for helping those you love live well during their final years. And the time to start is now.
MY MOTHER, YOUR MOTHER
Table Of Contents
Preface: Slow Medicine
"In the Station of Decline, an elder's gradual separation becomes increasingly apparent to all. The river widens, and the busy world on the banks recedes. Along with Mother's failing hearing and eyesight come less penetrating interest and understanding. Recent events, politics, what is happening in the community, down the street or next door are simply of less interest. The close-at-hand becomes most engaging: immediate details of living, the near view out the window, the motions of getting through each day. Perhaps some card or letter arriving in the mail, a magazine, a favorite TV program, devotional readings, a bouquet of flowers, or little present brought by a recent visitor attracts an elder's attention. 'What the weather's like today," 'what I had for lunch,' and 'how I slept' are central topics for conversation. Life is greatly simplified. Daily demands on cognitive skills decrease. Abbreviated communication arcs back and forth from shore to boat. Often family members feel as though they are calling but getting little or no response. What an elder reports on doesn't change much day by day, and what you report on from your world seems to interest her less and less. She doesn't really seem to want the details, just some reassurance that everyone is okay. Still, checking in remains a vital thread."
--from My Mother, Your Mother