There is a saying that when a lawyer represents themselves they have a fool for a client. Giving myself elder law advice as I navigate the aging process with my elderly parents is proving it.
How many times have I sat at a conference room table and given sage advice to adult children of parents with dementia about where their parent should live? I can give objective, yet caring advice about in-home care or the various facility options, the cost of such care and the public benefits available to assist with the cost in about an hour. And yet, discussing these options with my parents has been ongoing for a year and we have still not arrived at a solution.
The thought of leaving one’s home is a frightening one. Maya Angelou said, “the ache for home lives in all of us. The safe place where we can go, as we are, and not be questioned.” She’s right. Home is where we can wear two different socks, talk to ourselves or others who aren’t really there, walk in a room and forget why we are there, hoard rubber bands and toothpicks, keep the thermostat set as high as we want or never turn the TV off because we don’t know how to turn it back on, without anyone questioning us or thinking that we “need help.” The lawyer in me sees all of that as a problem that must be solved; my parents see that as comforting and safe. I am trying to learn to see things through their eyes, cloudy and misted as they are, and learn to listen to how they feel instead of what they say. I don’t know if this will make me a better lawyer, but maybe it will make me a better daughter.