Mom Never Stops Talking
"My Dad is most likely living the last few months of his life right now, and my sister and I want to spend as much time with him as we possibly can. Our problem is, every time we come over to the house, Mom monopolizes our time with conversation. She never stops talking when we are there, which drastically limits our time with Dad. There are some important conversations I would like to have with him, but I am afraid he will die before I get the chance. Is there a way to get Mom to give us time with Dad or to stop her constant talking? We just want some time with Dad!" - READER
There are ways to get your time with Dad, though you will need to be strategic to do so. The reason I say that is because your mother is likely the "talker" in the relationship, and that is not something you are going to change. What you can do is to manage the situation.
I first recommend that you take a step back and try to see your situation from a different perspective. Your father is declining and your mother has likely become quite isolated while caring for him. It can be very lonely for an outgoing individual to be cut off from her prior social outlet. Your mother also has two wonderful children who visit frequently. Can you see where I am going with this? It is very, very taxing to care for someone around-the-clock. The need never lets up and only increases with time. Your mother is under a lot of stress and your visits provide her someone to talk to. Your mother may need visitors just as much, if not more, than your father.
Your desire, though, is to be with your dying father. I completely understand. What I recommend is that you explore ways to meet everyone’s needs because right now both your mother and your father need you. I recommend that you consider the following strategies.
- When you enter the house, give your mother your undivided attention for 30-40 minutes, before you check on Dad. Hear her stories, updates, and concerns before you even speak of your father. Let her know that you are listening to her first, and then make it clear you wish to spend time with your father afterward.
- If possible, coordinate and share visits with your sister. One of you could have quality time with your mother while the other spends time with your father. Consider taking your mother shopping or find a project within the home that keeps her occupied while the other sibling visits with Dad.
- Find out if your mother needs more frequent visits or assistance caring for Dad. As his condition worsens, his needs will grow and the workload for your mother will increase. She will likely need respite and additional support. Try to figure out how she is managing and look for ways to provide relief to her. You could enlist the support of other family members. While your mother may not necessarily need a lot of help at the present moment, I would start planning for this now. Think of yourself as the general contractor who organizes all of the subcontractors. It will be a thankless job, though a very important one in the end.
You are more than capable of calmly assessing the situation and maneuvering your way through it to provide the best care for the patient, your father, and his caregiver, your mother. They are both fragile right now and in need of your support. I trust that you can successfully navigate this journey with your parents as long as you consider both of their needs.
I wish you the best.
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