I love to watch CBS’ Elementary. Police procedural with the human aspect, plus the characters of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson in modern times – it’s a great show. But the most recent episode, Through the Fog, hit closer to home for me professionally.
We learned in previous seasons that Joan’s mother had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. We didn’t see much about it but it had been introduced. One of the early scenes in Through The Fog has Joan’s mom going AWOL, with her stepfather having no idea where she was and the car was missing. She ends up on Joan’s doorstep, annoyed, because they were late and supposed to go to Fratello’s. Lucy Liu’s face showed it all – Fratello’s was a favortite restaurant that had closed 3 years before and they had no plans to meet. Her feelings when she told her mom were obvious – sad, upset, torn at reminding her mother that her memory was failing. We see that expression on families’ faces all the time. The disappointment, the melancholy. Things are not as they are supposed to be.
Later in the episode, Sherlock tells Joan she must have a conversation with her mother and while it will be difficult, it is her duty as a daughter and also as a citizen to make sure she is not on the road – the danger is to all. Joan agreed. I agreed. Taking the keys and the car away from an older adult who should not be driving anymore still rates as one of the highest stressors families can deal with. And the older adult does not usually agree readily.
At the end of the episode, Joan’s mother comes to her in a lucid state – she reminds Joan she has more good days than bad. And while Joan starts the conversation about how much she loves her mom and what she has to say may hurt her, mom interrupts and takes the onus off of Joan. She and her husband have already set up interviews with home care agencies.
While that doesn’t happen in real life as often as we would like, we do see Baby Boomers making plans for their own futures, not wanting to “do to my kids what my parents did to me.” Having the conversations about the future is hard but empowering. It allows the people involved to make decisions about their lives and not have the choices made for them. Joan’s mom did that for her. Let’s do that for our families too.