What Would You Do?

Recently sitting in my doctor’s office waiting room, I couldn’t help but notice a woman sitting nearby.  She appeared annoyed, anxious and distracted. Eventually an older woman, accompanied by her adult son, arrived and joined this woman.

It became apparent she and the gentleman were the adult children to the older woman.

The conversation that followed amongst the three centered on mom’s displeasure with having a home health aide in her home. I surmised that mom had just been discharged from a rehab center and the children were concerned about her safety.

Mom was worried that the aide living with her was bored and wanted to go home. Brother and sis were none too happy with mom’s obvious resistance to home care and continued to make that clear.

Eventually the siblings began a discourse on the advantages of an assisted living facility that they had just visited – apparently without mom. Daughter, with eyes focused on her newspaper, spoke of the bingo, the cooking class, and the arts and crafts. Mom, with her eyes focused on a magazine, commented on how she never participated in these activities in her lifetime so why would she start now!!??

Mom commented on how “no one could believe she was going to that place.”  She continued to argue why she wanted to remain in her home, how she was perfectly able to live on her own.

Daughter and son continued to argue their case – for all in this waiting room to hear.  Increasingly angry with and disrespectful towards mom, this discussion escalated with mom becoming more and more distressed.

I became more uncomfortable as I was forced to witness what should have been a very private, though difficult, discussion within this family.  I was tempted to intervene in some way but restrained myself (NOT easy!)  At one point I looked around for the cameras thinking this might have been part of that TV program “What Would You Do?”

The experience has stayed with me. Was there something I should have done differently?

~  Janet Pincu, MSW, LCSW, CALA