Only eight weeks ago, I was on a half-hour bike ride home, all uphill, when I called Mom for our daily shmooze. We caught up on

Mom looking at photos as we sped North on Rte. 95

Mom looking at photos as we sped North on Rte. 95

political scandals, Sarah Palin, literature, Oprah and Mom’s latest Bingo game. While we talked, mounting the hill was effortless.

Shortly after that, her doctor determined she could no longer live alone, so my daughter and I flew to Florida, where she was living, to accompany her to a nursing home in Philadephia near my brother’s family.

In a hospital bed, Mom sat propped up like a queen looking at photos on my laptop as our medical coach, a converted 42-foot RV, sped north on Route 95. After an hour of eating pretzels and giving commentary, I needed a break. A bit later Mom fell asleep and soon my daughter Emily and I began laughing as we read email responses from the rest of the family to my “Rte. 95 Travelogue.”

Mom opened her eyes and asked “What am I missing?”

So Emily and I climbed into her bed and we all read and laughed together. After the emails, Mom said she wondered how well off her family had been when she was growing up. She concluded they were pretty comfortable, given that her mother was always able to give away coal and still have enough for the family.

My mom has always loved conversation. But now her 92-year-old body is shutting down. Sometimes she is fuzzy from the morphine being administered for discomfort related to her heart condition; and some of the time her mind is good.

One of many frustrations is that she can’t seem to vocalize. We can tell she wants to express something but nothing comes out.

My sister tried giving her pencil and paper but Mom didn’t want that. Plus her hands are very shaky.

As her voice began to fade, so did her expression. There was no inflection in the little she was able to say.

When I go to see her this weekend, I thought I would try some yes and no questions, beginning by asking if she even wants to try to communicate, say, by lifting her hand for yes or wagging a finger for no.

Yet, that may be a total flop. I’m hoping some of you, my readers, can help. Any suggestions for how to assist my mom in expressing herself?


Maybe you know someone who has been through this. I’d love to hear from you and if I do get a variety of responses, I’ll write an article for Huffington Post or Home Goes Strong, so I can share what I learn with a broader audience.

Thanks for any help!



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