Mom is 80 years old and lives with us. We have a little apartment for her that is connected to our home, but separate at the same time. We are thankful we can have that space for her and that she is with us.
However, with that thankfulness is an awareness that Mom is becoming more frail. Her body doesn't always cooperate with her. Yesterday, I was so very aware of the toll aging has taken on her.
We went to the birthday party, which takes a about an hour and 15 minutes to get there. There is the mandatory pit stop we must make. We strategically have to find a parking place which makes it easy for her to get into the building. Of course the handicapped parking area is as far away from the door as you can park.
Mom can no longer go into a place by herself. The doors are too heavy, and the maneuvering of a door and a walker make it difficult to manage. And with the walking, making it to the bathroom "in time" usually doesn't happen any more. And, yesterday, Mom did not bring any supplies to take care of her problem. Mom doesn't always remember those things anymore of being prepared. We made do for the evening.
At the party, Mom sat in the house for a while, but then was ready to go out where the action was happening. Not an easy task any more, I scope out what obstacles will prevent her doing what she would like to do and how to make it work for her. Taking the small step out the back door is challenging, as she is reminded to lock the walker so she has stability to make the step.
We got her a chair to sit outside and arranged it so she could sit, but not have to walk as far. When I say that, the slight uneven surfaces can be a challenge for her now, and a mere couple of feet of uneven surface she needs assistance. Thank you to the nurse who saw the need for some extra special attention to Mom and helped.
We were one of the first to leave, as we had to travel a good ways compared to the other folks. When we arrived home, she was worn out from the short trip, and as she entered her apartment, I saw a worn out Mom.
This morning Mom did not go to church - she had a headache she said - my guess she was worn out from the night before.
Over the past few years, Mom's independence is fading. She is no longer driving (not her decision), she wants me to make decisions for her. Bill paying, medications, meals, and scheduling doctor's appointments are all a part of the responsibilities that she no longer has to worry about.
I won't say it's easy to care for an aging parent. There's the angst of wondering if I am doing all that needs to be done. There's the part of Mom that knows she is becoming increasingly more frail and less independent. There is the feeling of being on the hamster wheel of knowing that the responsibility continues 7 days a week, 24 hours a day. There is the selecting of food that we know she will be able to eat. There's the occasional fall (thank goodness for those "Help I've fallen and I can't get up" buttons) that happens in the middle of the night. There's the changing of linens at the least expected times. There are times of disorientation, yet there are times when she is crystal clear in thought, but those times are fewer.
I want to cherish these times when I see a part of Mom that I remember - the times that I see her are beginning to fade, but occasionally they shine through and I get that glimpse of Mom as I remember her.
I offer this prayer to those of you who might be experiencing caregiving for aging parents. I found it on this web site: