“We’re a close family, with four siblings equally invested in caring for our aging parents, both of whom were diagnosed with dementia at around the same time. Even in close families who speak frequently and where all siblings are equally engaged in the care of a parent, the lion’s share of the effort generally falls on one or two family members. Usually it’s the sibling or relative who is geographically closest to the aging parents. In our family it was my sister Kay. My brother, sister, and I would fly in frequently to help with doctor’s visits or to give Kay a break, but she was the focal point.
And while we were organized and coordinated to a point—even having weekly conference calls to talk about our parents’ care—it wasn’t enough. Our parents could no longer advocate for themselves, and when we’d accompany them to one of the many military hospitals or clinics where they received treatment, we often realized that we didn’t have the documents we needed on hand. Having the information in an email was helpful, but not if we couldn’t find it quickly … and in a military hospital setting, having detailed information at our fingertips was critical, particularly as the doctors themselves rotate often due to transfers.
My sister documented everything, in part to move our scattered information into one place, but also to help close the gaps between what she knew about our parents’ present state and what we thought we knew. MemoryBanc evolved from her process and became, in essence, our easy-to-reference library of our parents’ medical history—all of which helped us organize the details of their care and ensured continuity as we dropped in and out of town to help.
Eventually, MemoryBanc expanded to include financial information and general household details, allowing us to pay bills and track accounts. After our dad passed away, we had what we needed to close his accounts and transfer everything to our mom, which was an enormous relief during an emotionally difficult time. MemoryBanc has really helped us as a family.”