Dear Carol: My sister, who I’ll call Mary, is the primary caregiver for our mother. Mom has late stage Alzheimer’s and is in a nursing home near Mary. Mary is understandably stressed by a demanding job, caring for her family and visiting our mom several times a week. I’m concerned because when Mary is around Mom in the nursing home setting, she seems rushed and her voice is sharp. Then Mom gets agitated and distressed. While I never criticize Mary’s approach, I’ve suggested that since Mom gets excellent care at the nursing home Mary should visit less often so she can have more time for herself, but she gets defensive. I visit Mom as often as I can. How can I convince Mary that if she is more rested, she and Mom are both better off? – Allison
Dear Allison: You seem to genuinely want to help your sister as well as your mom, so I’m assuming as I reply that you realize that your mom may have bad days even with exceptional care. That being said, I agree that a caregiver’s body language and tone of voice can make a big difference to our vulnerable loved ones and that your mom may be picking up on Mary’s stress.