There are several problems that come up when our elder begins to ask questions. The first problem is that we’ve already answered most of them on numerous occasions. Finding an appropriate answer and the right tone of voice can be very difficult.
“How would you like it if…” I actually sat down and thought about how I’d like it if my keys and finances were taken away from me. I’d hate it. I’d get mad. I’d probably call the person who did it bad names.
I am honest with our elder when she asks this question. I tell her exactly that. I also remind her that the people behind these changes aren’t relatives. The doctors (3 of them) stated that she could no longer drive and the bank and two doctors said the same about her finances.
“What are you going to do about…” A lot of blanks can be filled in here, but for our elder, the most important is her home. She wants to know if we plan to keep it in the family. Aside from the emotional issues, the truth is that we don’t know. We’d like to, but there is a reverse mortgage attached to it. It will depend on whether or not we can get a regular mortgage and rent it out for enough to cover said loan.
We’ve tried answering that question truthfully, but it doesn’t work out very well. Instead, we just say that we will do everything in our power to keep it. That covers the territory and sounds like we mean “yes.”
“Why can’t I…” Like the above question, there are several that can be filled in here. She wants to pump her own gas, she wants to drive her own car, she wants to go to Las Vegas and walk down the Strip. Unfortunately, she can barely walk at all, struggles to pump gas and isn’t allowed to drive it in the first place.
The trick here is to suggest that one of the “boys” pump the gas, find her a ride to where she wants to go and distract her about the proposed trip to Vegas. Sometimes that works, and sometimes that doesn’t.
“Will you ___ after I die?” This is the hardest one to answer. None of us like talking about that eventuality, but it is topmost in her mind. Will I remember where she keeps her valuables? Will I make sure her memorial service and interment are done according to her wishes?
Obviously the answer is yes, but this is a bad line of thought for her. The more she dwells on her death the sooner she’s likely to die. In this, distraction is a good tool. I ask her to tell me how she got some of her valuables. I ask her questions about when she was growing up. If there’s anything positive I can think of, I talk to her about it so that her thoughts are positive.
The hard questions for us may not be the hard questions for everyone. However, it is a good idea to figure out how to best answer the questions so as to benefit our elders. We will be asked often enough to make this well worth while.