Sometimes you just have to be sneaky

I recall when the first doctor met with my sister and me and we asked him how we were going to be able to really help my parents. As he knew, they insisted that they could manage two homes, their bank accounts and continued to drive. He suggested that my sister and I “be sneaky.”

I am, to a fault, a very up-front person. I have never been good at detecting the subtle nuances and know that for some people, I’m too direct. After months of trying to manage through it by being up-front and failing, I’ve been trying to learn how to “be sneaky.”

Just admitting that makes me a little queasy.

My kids are watching me and I have had to explain to them why I’m violating one of our Bransford Family Values. They have been around my parents enough to understand how difficult they can be and how hard this has been on me.

This weekend, as a family, we watched “The Big Year.” The character Kenny is obsessed in maintaining his hold on the record. There are hints dropped that he might be cheating, but time and time again, you find he has not cheated. He doesn’t lie to his close competitors, but he does some things to indirectly throw them off the trail.

I like the way Kenny managed to pursue his objective without lying and now spend a few minutes before every call or visit to run through how I might avoid having to lie to my parents should a topic come up that might cause a conflict. Instructed.

9 comments on “Sometimes you just have to be sneaky

  1. I’m not familiar with the movie (quite challenged in the popular culture space), I would really put the situation quite differently. Between two cognitively normal individuals there is a proper expectation of honesty. There is an ethic of being truthful.

    When communicating with someone with dementia, there is a different ethic at work. That ethic involves avoiding situations that are dangerous to that individual or to others. We have been in a situation where a social worker and two daughters told a woman with dementia that the home care we were going to provide was free, covered by her medical insurance. Another daughter told her mother, with Alzheimer’s that the Home Care Aide was there to help the daughter keep up the house, because the daughter was just too busy working. A son told his father that the car broke down and they had to get rid of it, in order to stop him from driving.

    Are these dishonest or betrayals of values? Not in my book.
    Keep taking deep breaths. 🙂
    Bert Cave, Support For Home

    • Thank you Bert. I would AVOID all Trivial Pursuit Entertainment questions since that is not a strong suit of mine! I try to find lessons in all those things going on around me and would recommend this movie. Nice slice of life and interesting look into the birding community. I realized that I would struggle to be able to identify 10 birds, much less getting into the hundreds like these characters easily manage.

      I appreciate the advice. It’s good to hear and very helpful.
      Best, Kay

  2. I think being ‘sneaky’ – subtle, rather than direct – in this situation is not about lying, it is about being more loving and maintaining close relationships with your loved ones who have cognitive impairment. This might be the only time in your life when it really is ok to be more ‘subtle’ (sneaky), rather than so direct. I’ve been a very up front direct person, which sometimes gets in my way of receiving support, so I too have to learn to be more subtle!! My BUB tells me I’ve become more direct!!

  3. […] that for the well-being of my parents, in this case, we needed to be sneaky. I still reflect on the psychologist telling me this would be required as we help our parents almost a year ago and I initially fought the idea. I want to treat my parents as I would want to be treated. In […]

  4. […] first doctor that diagnosed my parents told me:  Sometimes You Have to Be Sneaky. It took me a while to recognize that he was right and I needed to overcome my “honest […]

  5. […] who initially diagnosed that my dad may have Alzheimer’s told me that I was going to have to be sneaky if I wanted to help my parents. I resisted feeling like it was disrespectful. We have always had […]

  6. […] help my parents. It lead me to understand why the first doctor that diagnosed my dad told me “sometimes you just have to be sneaky.” I finally realized what he was trying to help me understand and learned how to help without […]

  7. […] Sometimes you just have to be sneaky: After meeting with my parents, this is what the retirement community psychologist suggested when my parents refused to accept the help they obviously needed. […]

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