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Letter: Every Family Is Different

To the Editor:

In his Aug. 28 letter regarding the story of Al and Marie Esselborn (“A Story of Adaptation,” Aug. 25), Alan Tanenbaum asks many questions that seem to suggest that every family faces the same set of issues. Every family is different.

I saw the story of Marie and Al Esselborn as a story of love and care that is playing out in a different way than you or I might understand, but works for them at this time. As the only child of two aging parents who were married 55 years and lived six hours away, I encouraged them to move near me as my mother’s deteriorating eyesight and my father’s dementia became apparent. They were able to live in a Lebanon apartment for two years. During that time, they enjoyed the meals and services of the Upper Valley Senior Center while I was employed full-time. When it became obvious that they needed more help and support — both physical and emotional —than I could give, they moved to Wheelock Terrace. My dad moved into the memory care unit and my mom into the assisted living unit so they could be together, although on different floors. With the help of long-term-care insurance and their savings of many years, they were together until my father passed away. They were safe and well cared for, and they “adapted” very well to their situation!

Not everyone has the financial or family situation to make the most desirable choice of whether to stay in their own home until death, stay together somewhere else until death or have family help make the best decisions for them. For anyone to answer all the questions that Tanenbaum asks would take too much space, but suffice it to say that until you have lived through a similar situation — and I have plenty of examples from friends and families I could give on both sides of this discussion — you should be praising the Esselborns for making the decision that was right for them. Change is never easy to “adapt” to, but we all have to go through it, no matter what time of our life it interrupts.

Judy Fothergill

West Lebanon

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