The choice to place an elderly family member in a nursing home is one of the most difficult a family has to make. The Durkee family of Tunbridge, Vt., faced the dual dilemma of having a mother with Alzheimer’s and a father with leukemia at the same time. Several family members share their story on the Shaping Families radio program from Third Way Media this week.
More than 5 million people--almost 1 in every 5 nursing home residents in the United States--have Alzheimer's (Alzheimer’s Association, 2010). Alzheimer’s has been said to be “one long goodbye,” and it can have a profound affect on everyone in the family. Bob Durkee says it was hard to let his wife, Ruth, go to the nursing home, wanting to care for her himself. “He would go down every single day and made sure he was there to help her,” said Barbara, Bob and Ruth’s daughter.
For Bob and Ruth’s kids, with the nursing facility almost an hour away, they were torn between wanting to support their mother in the nursing home, and supporting their father at home. Even the grandchildren were affected, with some of them watching their grandma change so drastically and others only knowing a “grandma with Alzheimer’s.” One of the smaller grandchildren said, “I wish I knew Grammy like [my older sisters] know Grammy, because I don’t know that part of Grammy.”
The Durkee family appeared earlier in a documentary produced by Third Way Media, Embracing Aging, airing on some 80 ABC TV stations from Oct. 17-Dec. 12, 2010.
Shaping Families radio program airs each weekend on 17 local radio stations and online at www.ShapingFamilies.com. Also featured at the website is a weekly blog by host Burton Buller, a weekly recipe from Shaping Families staff and contributors, a study guide for small groups and Sunday school classes and many additional resources. Shaping Families is produced by Third Way Media through Mennonite Mission Network.