In Home Care or Assisted Living….What Would You Do?
Life. Whether good, bad or indifferent, we all have just one to live and it is up to us to decide how to live it. Well, that is until something happens and we can no longer make decisions or care for ourselves. Then what? What happens when we cannot make our own decisions? Who will make them for us? Who will take care of us? I just finished watching Lifetime’s newest original movie Of Two Minds (which premieres Saturday, March 10) and as the credits began to roll across the television screen I was reminded just how quickly life can change. Of Two Minds, starring Kristin Davis (Sex and the City) and Tammy Blanchard (Amish Grace) follows the relationship between Bille (Davis) and her schizophrenic sister Elizabeth “Baby” (Blanchard). After their mother dies Bille and her family are forced to make the decision to care for her sister or place her in a facility to receive the care she needs.
As a young woman I never thought about the serious stuff like aging parents, nursing homes, death, funerals, life insurance and wills. Life was full of other more important things; no need to cloud my head with such unimportant stuff. Well here I sit, pushing 45 years of age, married nearly 23 years, one kid in college, one preparing to enter high school and my head is full of life’s necessary questions involving every one of those topics and more. How did this happen? When did I become the responsible adult? Apparently we all do it, we just don’t realize it sometimes. And sometimes being the grown up stinks but hey, it happens. Ready or not, we all will at some point in our lives be faced with making these types of decisions and need to be prepared or at least have given it a thought or two.
Three years ago my father in law passed away; he was buried on the 49th anniversary of his marriage to the love of his life. To say that my mother in law was lost would be an understatement. She was in her late 70’s and for the past 49 years had been totally devoted to her family, especially her husband. They depended on one another and were very rarely apart. She took care of him and their home with pride and precision and he looked after her making sure she got to her appointments on time. (She never had a driver’s license so she depended on him or friends for transportation.) In the blink of an eye he was gone, she was alone and the question loomed over the heads of her five grown children; “what will mom do and who will take care of her?”
Knowing that she would never leave the town she had lived in for over forty years, it was apparent that it would be up to her two daughters Diane and Julie to look after her. As unfair as some would think this was, it was in fact the way it had to be. At first, they took turns having her stay with each of them for short periods of time and eventually the decision would be made to create a space for her in her youngest daughter’s home. My sweet sister in law, Julie and her family put their lives on hold so to speak to make room for mom and do their very best to take care of her. As one year turned into two and two began to turn into three, mom’s health began to fail and it was time to make the decision to place her in assisted living. While there were feelings of guilt, it was obvious that she needed care that her children could not give her. It was also time for Julie and her family to let go and let someone else take care of mom.
I recently visited with my mother in law in her new home. Her health has improved, her spirits are high and she is quite the social butterfly. While her memory is fading, she is happy and well cared for. The sense of guilt has disappeared and life is back to some sort of normal for all of us. This is the new normal for our family and it works. I applaud my sisters in law for their willingness and unselfish love for their mother to care for her the way they did. They blessed their mother deeply.
How far would you go to care for a sick family member? Would you put your life on hold to provide the basic everyday needs of a loved one or would it be too much for you to handle? Would you re-construct your life to accommodate an aging parent? Could you take care of someone with mental illness like Billie in Of Two Minds or would you institutionalize them immediately? Whether we want to think about it or not, the possibility of this happening to us in our lifetime is real. Watch the premiere of Of Two Minds on Lifetime Television, March 10 at 8p et/pt; then ask yourself, “What would I do if I were in a similar situation?”
View the Trailer: