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My Mother's Keeper: The Eye Doctor Appointment

By Beverly Bernstein Joie, MS, CMC

(Page 1 of 3)

For the past several years, my step-sister had been taking my mom to see the ophthalmologist. They had their routine; Cindy would drop her off for the appointment and then pick her up after it. Then, last spring, Mom called to ask if I could step in because Cindy was unavailable to help her. I was actually pleased that I would have the opportunity to see what the doctor had to say.

As a private geriatric care manager, I spend my professional life guiding families through the often twisted, treacherous journey that aging parents and their frantic children share. Often families are separated by distance and itís my job to be their eyes and ears Ė an advocate for their parents and a source of support for their caregiving children. Here I was beginning the journey myself, though I admit that I didnít know it at the time.

I sat through the eye exam with Mom and it seemed fairly routine. Then the doctor said to her, ďYou know, Mrs. Fastman, as I have been saying for the last three years, you should not be driving.Ē I almost fell through the floor, overwhelmed by a wild array of feelings. I recall panic, fear, anger, and embarrassment, to name a few. Here I was, a care manager whose own mom had slipped through the cracks. As I recall, the ensuing conversation went something like this:

Beverly: So doctor, what is the reason that my mom should not be driving?

Doctor: Itís the cataracts! Once they are removed, she should be okay.

Beverly: And how long did you say this has been going on?

Doctor: Itís been the last three years.

Beverly: Did you report this to the Department of Motor Vehicles?

Doctor: No.

Beverly (to Mom): Tell me why you never mentioned the doctorís position before.

Mom: Bevy, he never told me until today that I had cataracts! You know, I canít understand why he keeps playing with the eye chart to make it hard for me to see! I see just fine. (Yes, it really happened that way.)

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