Thursday, June 14, 2012

Lawyer's "Own Story" -- Caring for an Aged Parent

Attorney Mark Mateya, of Carlisle (Cumberland County), PA, writes a simple personal blog, hosted on Blogger, entitled Taking Care of Your Parents: My Own Story.

I've known Mark probably for fifteen years.  I respect him as a lawyer.  I did not know, however, that last year in May, he stepped out of that professional role and began posting his personal experiences on a blog about his family, and, specifically, about his elderly mother living alone.  

He invited readers:  "Please follow our journey as my family and I make plans for my aging mother."

His very first entry, on May 11, 2011, set the situation and noted challenges:
We just celebrated mother’s day in our country. Taking care of Mom this year, while she is still at home, is made a little easier by the loving support she enjoys. Mom is in her eighties, and her three sons, of whom I am the baby, give her as much support as possible. Two of us are farther afield, so we each take a little of the financial burden on us to try to compensate for the distance we feel from her. * * *
Five days later, he clarified his blog's purpose:
In this blog, I hope to explore my own adventure, not as much as an estate planning attorney, but more as a professional who is dealing with these considerations on a personal level. * * *
Mark posted about twenty entries during the past year on his Blog.  His entries read like a personal diary.  I admire his openness, conviction, humor, and emotion.  He writes about medical ailments, risks in a home, reduced self-care, prideful forgetfulness, limited mobility, confused communications, role reversals, financial accountability, potentials for abuse, and other concerns that arise naturally in the still-mutual lives of his widowed mid-eighties mother, and of himself as her devoted son.

I recall similar concerns in our family circumstances twenty years ago, which had extended for years before.  Those circumstances defined what I did and who I was, then; and those experiences formed what I do and who I am, now.

So I know that we read less of a travelogue, and more of a personal development memoir.  Mark may not yet recognize that yet. Also, he has not yet encountered the most turbulent times, including severe decline, death, mourning, and recovery.  Those events may be too difficult to relate when arising later.  Whether publicly or privately, I encourage Mark to write his thoughts during those times too.

Mark hopes that others will read his accounts, and find support in their own situations.  He is trained and disciplined, and maintains a good heart.  He faces family challenges not easily quantified or solved during a loved one's aging and decline.  Thus, he is not too different from me, or from so many of us.

On the professional side, Mark also posts onto a law firm blog simply entitled Mateya Law Firm.  There, he focuses upon powers of attorney in Pennsylvania.  He understands that abuse that can, and often does, occur under a power of attorney.  Where motives are not pure and selfless, where thinking is not clear or actions not accountable, where advocacy refutes cooperation and consensus, and where change is fought not planned, a POA can become a weapon of destruction.

How I wish that all individual holders of a power of attorney for an elderly parent would have the character and caring displayed in Mark's blog. 

Pick just such a family member when you execute your power of attorney.