top of page
  • Ruth Rothbart-Mayer

Meeting Notes

Group therapy

Sometimes after particularly notable support group meeting I summarize them and send to the group. Below are examples of a few:

9 March 2017

Hello All - our meeting last night was most interesting and veered off into unexplored areas. M gave us a comprehensive picture of his mother, in effect, from birth to death, how she saved herself and several family members in Germany in the 30’s. What an interesting and brave woman. That spurred others to chime in about their own or their family’s experiences of coming to America; some during the WWII era, others in the 1950’s when their countries were in turmoil; yet others had families who have been here for hundred of years. They talked about the conditions - what it took to get here, the struggles their families faced, the generational effects of slavery and its resulting lack of history for many.

Fortunate that some families archive their histories through journals and film while others could go no further than their own or, at best their parents, generation since it was either not known or spoken about.

The importance? To shed light on who we are and by extension who the people are that you are caring for - character, nature, experiences. Putting together the pieces of a puzzle that your family member no longer knows gives context to commemorate who they were before their memories faded.

G said it clearly "my history was lost to slavery, yours is a history I didn’t know and we need to talk about all of it."

We remember the past to cherish and honor our families. For those who lived in regimes that wrought the destruction of their countries and citizens and were faced with brutality and displacement, we remember to not forget...

26 Sept 2016

A group member told this story: her husband was being interviewed by a psychiatrist from the Mid-East who got upset when the man asked if she was married and had children.

The director of nursing who came from the Philippines, also took umbrage. He saw it as an inappropriate question which convinced him that there was something very wrong with her husband.

This startled the wife who asked the director of nursing, “Do you know what my husband did for a living?” No. “He sold life insurance, those are the top two questions he would ask someone. He’s speaking from what he knows.”

The nurse didn’t quite understand that the man’s questions reflected his work. It’s hard not to think that there were cultural differences being expressed as well.

Some people in the group wanted to know if the psychiatrist was a Coptic Christian or Muslim. If the latter, then the husband’s questions would be considered inappropriate. Then a few in the group cried out, “he has dementia, doesn’t the staff know that?”’

The group moved on; always so much to cover. One woman was distraught because her mother, who had been fluent English and Spanish, was now confusing the two. She didn’t know that people with dementia often revert to their language of origin and Spanish was her mother’s native tongue. Another was relieved to hear that there was a reason for her father’s reversion to mumbling sometimes in English but more frequently in incoherent German, his language of origin.

G’s mother was diagnosed with “Parkinson’s psychosis” and G has to meet with the neurologist tomorrow. She was nervous not knowing what to expect. So the group discussed the diagnosis which one looked up on the web to get a clearer definition, then they helped her formulate questions to ask the doctor.

Because of that conversation we learned that a new group member is a medical writer; a member of long-standing, a chemist; we had a doctor in the house and a nurse or two while the rest were good smart people who have learned a thing or two about being advocates for their family members. As a collective, the group provided G with sound information and were satisfied knowing it would help.

That prompted me to ask each person to tell us more about the person they were caring for – what professions they had held and how they spent their time.

Fascinating…a story for another time.


25 April 2017

Ruth Rothbart-Mayer, LCSW, C-ASWCM


  • Wix Facebook page
  • LinkedIn App Icon

Individual Psychotherapy & Elder Care Coaching

14 Fairway Ave, West Orange, NJ 07052

bottom of page