Recently, we had a suggestion that Mom, who is 86, have a certain medical procedure. Most times we are all the type who say “whatever the doctor ordered” is what we are going to do. This time, however, we weren’t so sure. Mom is frail, and doesn’t have the reserve energy she once had.

If you are a caregiver, you have either been at these crossroads before and are yawning, saying ‘tell me something I didn’t already know,’ or you have not yet crossed this bridge. If not, get ready…your turn is coming.

Whether it’s helping decide on the best nutrition for Mom, or you and the doctor having to decide if Mom can handle another round of chemotherapy, you are making some tough decisions. And, let’s face it, we weren’t prepared to be our parents’ caregivers. We’re in a role reversal.

My brothers and I talked to each other about what we knew, what we read, and what we feared could happen. We discussed the pros and cons with each other, including friends with expertise and companions who know and love Mom. We spoke with the physicians, their assistants, and in the end, decided the ‘cure’ might be much worse than the ‘sickness.’ This was the pole star by which we set our course.

But we didn’t talk to Mom. No one asked her for her opinion. We didn’t include her, mostly out of fear of having to discuss an embarrassing issue. And also – remember – we’re doing what’s best for Mom. That somehow gave us a ‘get out of jail free’ card when it came to soliciting her advice.
Now that this storm has passed, how do we feel? Pretty good. Except the not-asking-Mom part. That feels a little awkward. But this care-giver role is filled with paradoxes and role reversals. So a little awkward is probably not so unusual at all.