Intended for healthcare professionals

Observations Yankee Doodling

What I learnt from Mom

BMJ 2010; 340 doi: (Published 08 June 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;340:c2973
  1. Douglas Kamerow, chief scientist, RTI International, and associate editor, BMJ
  1. dkamerow{at}

    Health and health care musings on losing a parent

    My mother died on 22 May at age 86. She had Alzheimer’s disease, congestive heart failure, and probably a small stroke at the end. She fell twice in her last year, causing two debilitating fractures.

    In caring for her and arranging for her care I learnt a lot that I should have already known.

    The lessons began after my father died eight years ago. It took a year or so, after some financial decisions had worked to her disadvantage, for my sister and me to realise that my mother was not really capable of managing her fiscal affairs. The lesson here was not her inability; rather, it was the vital and complementary contributions of life partners. She helped my father through his declining health, and he kept track of the finances.

    Although I spend a lot of time railing about the crazy US healthcare system, I never got an up-close, personal view of what our elderly have to deal with until 2007. I told my mother then …

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