In 2016 Fern Pessin left her business and life in New York/Connecticut to move to Florida. Her mission was to support her parent’s well-being in their journey of aging with grace, surrounded by love while protecting and maximizing their resources.
Her Dad (Arthur) has Alzheimer’s. He falls, forgets, is light headed and confused but is still living in independent living – with his wife of 62 years. He has a pacemaker and is on a blood thinner which makes falls and bruises more dangerous. He’s depressed. And he has skin cancers removed every six months.
Mom (Hedda) is a cancer survivor (Osteo Sacrcoma of her sacrum) and, after 15 years, the cancer is starting to grow again. She has neuropathy in her foot and can tend to drag her foot and trip when she’s tired. She has been diagnosed with pseudo dementia. Stress of worrying about her husband is causing the dementia, doctors say. She is a clutterer/hoarder and has narcissistic personality disorder.
Overwhelmed at first, Fern realized there was scattered information out there to help guide her in this new role of caring and advocating for her parents. So, she did a ton of research, got certified as a Home Health Aide, attended conferences and classes, interviewed experts, attended weekly support groups and more — to ensure an understanding of what to look for and do for her parents both physically and emotionally. She sought out a team of experts to help her and her siblings navigate through the financial, legal and medical requirements of securing her parents well-being over the long term.
After accumulating this arsenal of knowledge, she decided to share it with the other 34 million adult children caring for their parents in this country, so she wrote I’ll Be Right There, A Guidebook for Adults Caring for Their Aging Parents. Her goal was to remove the overwhelm that she felt when she assumed the caregiving role and to support other families in their caregiving journey; to help people know what they didn’t know they needed to know when they found themselves in the role of helping a parent. Fern also serves asked at the bequest of the governors office on the task force for Alzheimer’s and dementia for Palm Beach County Florida.
Fern joins us to talk about her caregiving journey with her parents as well as share her -self-help routine that keeps her balanced.