Planning Together

Celeste Suggs and her two sisters live hundreds of miles apart. But as caregivers to their mother, they stand together. Their recent care plan appointment was all about unity.

“My sisters and I support one another, we talk things out and share caregiving responsibilities. But mom can be challenging, and this is hard for everyone. It’s important that we make decisions together and that mom hears a consistent message from each of us.”

Celeste recalls her first care plan appointment was soon after her mother became an MMC patient. “This was a big draw for us as we were looking for a neurologist. We chose MMC in part because of the attention to caregivers. We knew we’d need this kind of support.”

The sisters put off scheduling their second care plan appointment. “We went through some tough periods, and some changes in mom’s condition. There was a lot of stress, and we really needed a reset, more than we wanted to acknowledge.”

They scheduled a virtual appointment and all three participated. “I think we were hoping for magic. The appointment started with a review of mom’s condition, treatment, and what to expect medically. We all began with the same understanding of the facts, and then the family care navigator took the lead and we moved on to strategies. She let us talk a lot, and it’s helpful to spill your guts to someone who will listen! She helped us recognize when to implement new strategies.  At the end of the call, we all felt better and we stayed on the call for 30 minutes after the MMC staff left. It really was a little bit magical!”

Bianca Graham-Bruce was the Family Care Navigator on the call. She smiles at Celeste’s recollection. “This is a family that really wants to work together - they just needed an objective facilitator to help them stay focused and coordinated. We talked about strategies for redirection when their mother becomes angry. For example, if mom sends a text about a dispute from years ago, there is no need to reply immediately. The sisters can give it some time and then respond with something unrelated but pleasant and current. This has been working so far.”

Celeste agrees, “It’s such a simple strategy, but one we needed to be reminded of. And it’s helped us calm everything down and respond with consistency. I’d recommend a care plan meeting for every family, wherever you are in this journey. It’s your time - use it!”

Celeste Suggs with her sisters Charlene and Gay, and their mother Bobbye.

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