The Value of Complaints

The Value of Complaints

A client’s child was discussing his mothers care needs and he brought up a very good point. He said, “You know, my mother who is needing care at home has many complaints, but they are a vital source of information on her condition, both physical and psychological. Tell everyone to look at the valuable information complaints provide. “

A complaint first tells you that the person is not giving up. It shows something is bothering them, and they want it fixed so life can be better. For seven months now my 97 year old mother in law complained that her assisted living facility was not doing her hair. It was a personal and acutely missing part of her life. She had never gone more than a month without her hair being done since the end of WWII. The fact that she brought that up signaled she was fighting as best she could to keep going and not let her isolation rob all her dignity.

Other complaints may be about a caretaker in the house, which can tip you off that care might not be proper, or that the caretaker is not a good fit. This can happen if the caretaker’s personality is not a good mix for the elder person. For families that have hired a homecare company, it is advisable to ask for a different caretaker, and the companies will usually try to accommodate the family, as a smooth relationship is good for all.

A different type of complaint may be about pain or discomfort of one sort or another.
Pain is there for a reason, which is why our bodies signal us that way, and if mom or dad has the capacity to relate that to a child, it gives the opportunity to try to solve the problem. Sometimes complaints may not make any sense, and that could be a tip off to dementia, in which case the family may want to see a gerontologist to get a medical evaluation to determine the condition and advisable treatment or other action to take. It can be very advantageous to see a gerontologist, because they not only are experts in the mental and physical infirmities of aging, but they should have special knowledge of the effects various drugs have, physically and mentally. In addition, a gerontologist will likely know the interactions of various drugs and be careful not to end up with a prescription cocktail that turns the patient into a
zombie. Sometimes less is more, or a particular prescription affects one person differently than another, and the complaints can be a valuable source of information to help figure that out.

No complaints can indicate that there are no problems that need addressing, or it can signal that the will to persevere is ebbing. All of these observations are fairly obvious to all of us, but that clients child was right that we should be attentive when we hear complaints from our elder loved ones as it just may make their lives a little, or a lot better.
Attorneys Stephen O. and Halley C. Allaire are partners in the law firm of Allaire Elder Law.
Attorneys Stephen O. and Halley C. Allaire are members of the National Academy of Elder Law. Attorneys, Inc.
Allaire Elder Law is a highly respected, and highly rated law firm with offices in Bristol, CT.
We can be contacted by phone at (860) 259-1500 or by email.

If you have a question, send a written note to us and we may use your question in a future column.

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