A Caregiver Hears the Words

Posted on March 2nd, 2010

beverly   BY: Beverly Bernstein Joie, MS, CMC
                      President, Elder Connections

My Story

On December 16, 2009, my mother did not answer the phone.  I had experiences like this many times before.  Was she in the bathroom, getting the mail, or asleep?  I had trained myself not to panic.  But, by 9:50 PM, it was time to do something.  I called security in her Philadelphia continuing care retirement community and asked that they check on her.  When the security guard returned to the phone, he responded

“I think that we are going to declare her.”    

Those incredulous words will always be with me.  Could my worst nightmare be true?  The shock of it began to slowly allow the meaning to catch up.  Somewhere in the background, I heard my husband saying, “Honey, I am so sorry.”  I kept hearing I am so sorry as I went running for the door.

That is the way it began.  That is how I learned that my mother had left me.

Those words will not leave me. 

Do we realize every day how what we say affects others?  It’s such a simple thing with such a profound impact.  Health professionals are interfacing with families everyday.  Often they are unaware of how their words are affecting the families and the seniors with whom they speak.  

Elder Connections, is here to help you face these challenges.   And now I was experiencing  my own challenges as my mother’s caregiver!   

Words handle them carefully, for words have more power than atom bombs
– Pearl Strachan Hurd

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