Annie’s Mailbox: Talk to siblings about Mom’s care
Dear Annie: After a botched operation left her bedridden for months, my mother has to relearn to walk. My father, a loving but controlling person, didn’t want to put her into a rehab facility where she would be pushed to get well. Instead, he placed her in a nearby nursing home. Most of the patients in the home are in wheelchairs or in their beds. The staff gives Mom physical therapy four days a week, but they don’t have a lot of equipment or expertise in rehab. Long story short, Mom is not making progress. She’s getting depressed, and it looks like she’ll live the rest of her life in the home. My siblings who live in the area defer to my father, and I can’t get the doctors to do a thing.
My mother has her full mental faculties, and I think if the doctors could talk to her alone, without Dad around, and explain that she needs to go somewhere else, she would do it. And if they would spell it out for Dad, he might be OK with it, too. Right now, it’s all about keeping him calm instead of getting her well. I don’t want my mother to spend the next 20 years in a nursing home because we missed the opportunity to get her the aggressive therapy she needs. What can I do? – Concerned Daughter
Dear Daughter: You may not be completely informed of the reasons behind the choices being made. Many nursing homes have quite competent rehab facilities, and it’s possible your mother is, in fact, getting the best care available to her. Set up a conference call with your siblings, and find out what is really going on.
You also can leave a message for the doctor explaining your concerns in detail. Enlist your siblings’ support to approach your father, calmly and with love, to clarify why a different program could be more beneficial. Surely he wants Mom to make as complete a recovery as possible.
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. E-mail questions to anniesmailbox@ comcast.net, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611.