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Professional Advice for Personal Caregiving Questions

Question:

Should your Mom with Alzheimers be involved in Dads dying process/funeral?

Mom and Dad both have dementia and live in a facility together. Dad is showing signs of failing and we are not sure how to handle my mother. I am mostly sure that she will not remember that he is sick. I am worried that when he is gone, she will keep asking where he is. Should she be there for his hospice care? In the event of a funeral, should she go?

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Answer from: Mary S., Geriatric Care Manager

Dear Caregiving Adult Children,



Your Mom and Dad both have dementia. Your tasks as caregivers likely has challenging days. Good job on what you do to care for them.



It is hard for me to give you a response without having met your mother. Usually I like to meet the person and thus I can quickly assess more as to what I would/would not recommend to the family as to involvement of your mother with dementia in the dying process and hospice for your Dad.



As a professional care manager, I usually recommend to try to allow the elderly spouse to be involved as much as is appropriate and possible in the life of their spouse and the dying process of that spouse. They live in the same room, so your mother will be seeing her ill spouse, even though she may not process it in the usual way due to her dementia. I find often they have been married for many years and have a history of life together and many shared experiences (both happy and sad ones), and being exposed to what is happening may assist them in the reality of their spouse�s illness and/or death. Although she may not remember the death, with a reminder of some part of the dying process she witnessed she may be aware your Dad is gone, and this may serve to be helpful to her if she asks about him after he is gone.



Actually an assessment is the best way for a care manager to be able to make the best recommendations to you. If you would like me to meet you and your parents to further assess your situation and provide recommendations.



Sincerely,



Mary

Another Expert Answer:     

Answer from: Arlene S., Elder Law Attorney

These are really psychological issues and you need to get a geriatric specialist in the emotional health aspects of Mom's situation.


From a legal viewpoint, please make sure that if father and mother did name each other as Powers of Attorney, there is a back up party named.


It seems neither can really act as POA for the other in an emergency, due to their mental and physical issues.


Another Expert Answer:     

Answer from: Jordan R., Senior Issues Advisor

This is quite a dilemma, on the one hand, grieving is a human need and your mom, despite being demented, and an inability to remember, does have a right to attend her husband's funeral. I would advocate for bringing her to the funeral. If, however, you or her physicians feel that her attendance at a loved-one's funeral will cause sufficient distress as to jeopardize her wellbeing and health, even just temporaritly, I would advocate against her attendance. One other thing to consider, of course, is the needs of you and perhaps other siblings and family members. You may find that your mother's attendance, assuming she would not be harmed by participating, helps you, your children, or the family as a whole, grieve, and say goodbye to your father. This sounds like an incredibly challenging situation. Good luck.

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