It has been very difficult for me to sit down and write a story about my mom. I only want to say nice things about her, but quite frankly that’s difficult. One day can be great and the next day I don’t want to be around her.
She is 87 years old and has the onset of dementia. My dad passed away at age 57. She lives at home alone with her dog. My mom refuses to have anyone live with her, to move into an assisted living facility or have help with the house. She requires a cane or walker. She is able to drive to the market and other chores.
My mom does not enjoy going out to eat because she has lost her taste. I basically have to get her into the car without telling her what we’re doing. She refuses to take anti-anxiety medication. She is constantly worried about everyone and everything.
I have two older brothers. One lives out of town and my oldest brother works. They basically leave the caring to me. I do everything I can. I see her perhaps 3 to 4 times a week. I talk to her several times a day to check in.
All of her friends are gone now. Her sister lives out of town. She refuses to go to organizations with other people her age, even if it is just for lunch.
I am married almost 35 years and have two grown children. Thank god for them. My husband is very understanding with aging parents of his own, who are also rather difficult.
Life has certainly changed the last five years!
I go to the gym three times a week. It certainly is nice having that time to myself. My best friend lost both of her parents in the last 5 years and helps me learn how to cope.
For someone who didn’t want to talk about this, I feel I better stop now. I’m taking my husband to San Francisco tomorrow. LOOKING FORWARD TO IT!!!
I know I am not alone in this difficult period of life.
Thank you Toby for including me on your website.
We want to “rave” about London’s progressive approach to elderly fitness. A new senior playground just opened in Hyde Park with fitness equipment aimed at the 60+ set. Locals rallied for more facilities to help elders keep fit. The added bonus is that the seniors mix & mingle while working out. WHAT A CONCEPT!
We are often so preoccupied with the signs of aging in those near and dear to us, that we are shocked to suddenly see them in ourselves! Yesterday, during my third visit to my favorite museum in the world – the Louvre, I slogged my way up 4 sets of steep marble stairways and was a little pooped out at the top (to my chagrin and astonishment). I remembered my first visit 13 years ago when I beat my 21-year-old daughter up the steps. Then, on my next visit, 7 years ago I was at least able to keep pace with my younger daughter as we climbed the stairs together. I was shocked to be a bit breathless yesterday. Another reminder of time passing…. an elderly lady who was probably in her 80’s was pushed in her wheelchair to the bottom of one of the flights of stairs next to me. In a trembling voice she said in English, “I should have come 15 years ago when I could still do this, but time went by so fast”!
Hope all is well.
What I learned today, accompanying my father-in-law to his doctor’s appointment and then making the follow-up calls this afternoon, is quite enlightening: information gets lost in translation! With four of us rotating the responsibility of taking my father-in-law to these appointments, not everyone seems to get the same story – or, when it gets passed on to a third party at the assisted living facility, the facts appear to change. The end result is that procedures regarding his care have not been uniform. I could see that just one person needs to spearhead communication with the physicians. Whoever that is can then share the details with everyone else. Today’s event had to do with care after a surgery, changing bandages and applying Neosporin. It was easily remedied; however with a larger health care issue, it may not have been so simple.
I also saw discovered how much time it takes to have multiple conversations when more than one doctor is involved with the surgery. In this instance, two physicians were trying to touch base, missing one another, leaving voice messages back and forth (one while seeing her scheduled patients and the other returning calls between surgeries) and involving all three of us in an extreme game of telephone tag. To add to my frustration, I was on the phone for just a minute and missed an incoming call by barely a second. Of course it was the nurse of the doctor who had done my father-in-law’s surgery. Equally maddening, when I returned her call, it went straight to voice mail. Just handling this barrage of calls took lots of time, which most people caring for their aging parents do not have. I don’t want to become resentful or super stressed, and see that I need to find balance.
After the death of our mother, there was an interesting relationship shift in our family.
The first four of my parent’s children were girls; the youngest was their only son. Our Italian mother easily interacted with each of her children, but our German father was more reserved. He didn’t engage in a lot of conversation or activities with his kids, though we knew we were dearly loved by him.
Our mother was the conduit of information among us, as we became independent and lived separately from our parents. We learned from her of births, deaths, illnesses, marriages and divorces in our extended family and friends. With two of the siblings living out of state, this lifeline to news was an important way for us to feel connected to people we rarely saw, but about whom we cared.
Once Mom was gone, we hoped Dad might fill this role of ‘family crier’. Not only would it keep us in the pipeline for information, but it would give us topics for conversation with Dad beyond the weather and sports. Unfortunately, he never filled those shoes (though others of my sisters did keep us up-to-date on the comings and goings of the people we knew), but Dad ended up filling an even more important role in my life.
While Mom liked sharing news, I learned that Dad would talk about meatier subjects, like faith and values. We enjoyed many hours, often very late into the night, talking about soul subjects. The later the evening grew, the more philosophical and deeper the conversations became.
Dad outlived Mom by nearly 15 years. As we laid him to rest, I realized that even though my mother was the parent who was so comfortable in day-to-day conversations with her children, my father was the parent who truly knew me.
I felt like a misfit in the “sandwich generation” because my parents were in their mid thirties when they married–and my mother died before I was 40. My dad lived another 15 years (until 2000). At the time, I really had no guidance and very, very few friends to help me or to give me tools for moving on. Fortunately I have a close family, with four siblings who get along. We all called each other, helped each other, cried together, and kept my parents’ legacy going to this day.
I was very fortunate that my father was an estate-planning attorney and had gone over with me, the executor of his will, every step that needed to happen once he passed away. He did this 10 years prior to his death and it made the eventual work very predictable and seamless.
In that regard, I have sent our three adult children my last will and testament and have listed for them steps to take in the case of my death. They also have my account passwords, burial information, entrance to the safety deposit box, the name of our attorney…anything to help them with details. I believe that dialog and transparency is key and most of my girlfriends have no clue as to their parents’ plans or directives. That is sad to me.
Good luck, and keep the stories coming!!