ItÃ‚Â isn’tÃ‚Â an easy thing to watch your parents age. The people who seemed to be strong and invincible when you were a child become weaker as the years go by. Often times, there is a point where you have to make a decision where your mom or dad will live because they just canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t be totally independent any more.
In my case I decided that my mom should come to live with us. At the time, I was not employed. I was homeschooling my children and the house we lived in had a room just off the kitchen with an attached bath. It was a perfect set up. I had on rose colored glasses while I strolled through fantasy land.
It didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t take very long before reality hit and our lives became a bit different than they had been. I found that I had to create three different diets for each meal; my familyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s normal food, my low carb meals, and my momÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s low salt/low fat meals. Not only did her meals have to be extremely low sodium but they had to look appealing or she wouldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t eat them.
I decided that it was karma from my childhood because I was the pickiest eater ever born.
As she declined, she got more difficult to deal with. She was critical and belligerent one minute and insecure and sobbing in my arms the next. She was depressed and stared out the window for hours no matter how many times we tried to engage her in an activity. She was forgetful, and many times she would douse me in a barrage of hateful words that really did sear me to my core.
My mother became my child, regressing backwards from rebellious teen to dependent toddler. I finally understood Dickens statement, Ã¢â‚¬Å“It was the best of times, it was the worst of timesÃ¢â‚¬Â¦Ã¢â‚¬Â
It isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t the actual care that is difficult. It is the constant emotional energy you give out and no one can understand it until they have lived through it. You may have less freedom to run out to the store, or you may be constantly called upon to help her to the potty. It is a safe bet that you will feel like you are back in your baby-mothering years.
Your parentÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s doctor will let you know about how to best care for physical needs, but most doctors donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have time to talk to you about what your needs are going to be.Ã‚Â Having been through it, here are some things I wish I had known -
- Arrange to have someone to stay with her one day a week so you can get some relief. Check with her doctor and insurance or Medicare policy. It may be covered if you title it just right.
- Get involved with a caregiverÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s support group. Many larger churches have them as well as secular agencies. You might not think you will need it, but you will.
- Let your kids know that this is a special time to spend with Grandma and that while it may be frustrating once in a while, it will be a time they cherish in the future.
- Just like you did with your newborn – give up any chore that isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t necessary. Spend that time talking to your parent about her memories and either video or record it. Take lots of pictures.
- DonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t feel guilty. You will never feel like you have done enough Ã¢â‚¬â€œ just accept it.
The experience will be the hardest thing you have ever done, but when it is over youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll realize just how much it deepened you. Your perspective will be changed forever.
photo credit: Borya