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Dear Rachel,

I wish you had written a message from a different perspective to Heartbroken (Chronicles December 30). At this point her grandfather may need memory care or a full time geriatrics aide and not just a senior residence. Her parents’ marriage is apparently under some strain with the additional responsibility. But the worst part is that her grandfather is at risk for harm.


This 17-year-old will have a lot more to cope with if her grandfather wanders off and does not return, or if his wandering causes adult protective services to investigate the apparent lack of care in the home.

A nursing home is custodial care and there are other levels of care, including residential homes with staff. It is part of maturing to learn to accept and cope with ill health and aging in oneself and in one’s family. It is part of maturing to recognize other people’s boundaries and to be grateful for the care they have already provided.

Where can “Heartbroken for Zadie” find support for herself in coping with these changes in her family? Has she taken CPR and first aide classes so she can confidently watch her zadie while her parents look for an environment where he has a greater chance of receiving care? There are indeed situations when a husband and wife will switch roles so that the wife works and the husband cares for his parent, but this couple seems not to be considering that option. Wife, husband, third party, or no care: which option is more likely to help Zadie?



Dear Rachel,

Regarding the 17-year old girl and her zadie, it’s a difficult situation indeed. He sounds like a lovely man and baruch Hashem she has a great relationship with her grandfather. He would definitely need a caregiver to make sure he is safe. Maybe part time during the day, when the family is busy. And at night, when others are sleeping, he needs someone to make sure he doesn’t wander off.

It’s nice of her to want him to be with family, but as he declines, his wandering might become more dangerous and he might need a more secure environment, like a memory care place. There are nice ones with kosher food and other peers to socialize with and do activities. And she can visit him and be with him there. Yes, people prefer to be home, but sometimes safety needs to come before desire.

Shalom, from a supportive reader


Dear Rachel,

Regarding the letter from the 17-year-old and her beloved zadie, we went through a similar situation in our home. Though by the time my in-laws came to live with us, our children were grown and out of the house. My husband quit his job to care for his parents who could no longer care for themselves. We also had sporadic part time aides.

A dementia patient cannot be left alone. This granddaughter, devoted as she is, cannot handle her grandfather’s care, and her mother is obviously not in a position or is unable to deal with the situation on her own.

It’s rare to find adult children willing to sacrifice their career and everything else to care for an ailing parent. As the saying goes, a mother can take care of ten children while ten children cannot take care of one mother. My husband wouldn’t hear of institutionalizing his parents. And I didn’t blame him. There is no way they’d have received the personalized care he or she required. It’s simply not possible.

When their time came, both my in-laws passed away peacefully in our home in their own beds. It’s difficult to offer advice to another without knowing all the logistics. We must pray for clarity, for good health, and for good children. I’ve learned to take nothing for granted and thank Hashem every night for allowing me to sleep in my own bed.

A fan of your column


Dear Readers,

You’ve said it all. You’ve laid all options on the table. We’ve got the pros, the cons and the maybes all covered. In the end, the mature adults must come to their own conclusion and make the decision that best suits them, from all angles. May we all merit to age gracefully, without the need to lean on our children.

Thank you for your input and caring.

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