Chapter 2

Chapter 2 Excerpt – Proximity, Expertise and Tangibles (PET)

As you continue to explore “decision-makers” and the choice to be involved, think about Proximity, Expertise, and Tangibles. These elements may also influence who takes on what responsibilities.

Proximity refers to BOTH the physical distance to the senior and the emotional closeness to the senior.

Rightly or wrongly, the majority of duties often fall to the family member who lives the closest to the senior. This can bring resentment toward the family members who live farther away because the one “stepping up to the plate” feels like they are contributing more than the others. Their involvement needs to be acknowledged and appreciated while looking for ways that the other family members can also play a part.

* Think about where potential “caregivers” live. How easy is it for them to get to the senior, whether it is on a daily basis or in an emergency? What other obligations are there that might be a consideration? Work? Family?

In every family, there are people who have a stronger emotional connection with some members over others. For example, in my family, my Sister and Brother were closer to my Mother while I was closer to my Father. It did not mean that there was any less love between all of us, only that there was a deeper affinity with those particular relationships. When my mother passed away, we all felt the loss. Yet I believe that, of the three children, my Sister felt the loss the deepest.

* What relationship connections are already established? Who would the senior be most “comfortable” with, whether it is having conversations about delicate topics or asking for help with emotional concerns?

Also, there may be long-held behaviors and mindsets that can be a factor in how effective communication might be. I have a senior friend who seems to give more credence to things said by sons over daughters – even if they are the same. I don’t believe that this is intentional or done with malice; it just may be that the senior has lived in a world where men were more of an authority figure. Be aware of these attitudes and work with them accordingly. Now is NOT the time to start trying to adjust someone’s “way of thinking.”

* For more information and support, check out Children of Aging Parents – they even have an on-line newsletter.