Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Don't wait too long to move your parent

I fear we waited too long to move Mom. We worked hard for several years to keep her at home, until her arthritis made her too weak to do even the most basic things and she neglected to take her medication. We thought we did the honorable thing, working together to keep her at home. But, in the long run, it may have been a mistake.

At this point she is so weakened and crippled by arthritis, especially in one knee, that she can not walk from her room to public areas of the assisted living facility. She is unable to walk, unassisted to meet other residents and refuses to learn her way around. She is isolated and lonely. She feels more alone than ever before in her life and there is nothing we can do about it. We try to visit often, the care givers offer to help her walk but she is unwilling to call them.

This morning I visited Mom and she asked to go home again. I had a pretty bad migraine headache and was quite frustrated after hearing this daily for a week. She has also begun to accuse the aides of intentionally doing the opposite of what she asks which is NOT at all like my mother. I knelt on the floor then sat back on my heels in front of her recliner and broke into tears. Mom apologized and said "I'm sorry to be such a burden..." I told her that it's not a burden but that she must realize that she has severe limitations now and that we just can't take care of her at home. She craves conversation with people she's known for years; the problem is that many of them are dead. Those still living are demented or too deaf to communicate. She wants to share memories and laugh with people who shared her experiences but it is impossible.

Making her totally content is impossible so we must be thankful for moments when we can make her laugh or smile. It's hard for us - the family - to accept that we can't make every moment happy. At least we are going through it together and we're able to help her enjoy things SOME of the time...