Wednesday, May 4, 2011
The Elderly End Game
She got up the first time at 3 am, I gently put her back to bed and told her not to get up until it was light out.
She got up again at 4 am. I not so gently put her back to bed and told her not to get up until it was light out.
She got up again at 5 am - I yelled at her not to get up until it was light out.
I gave up at 6. I was angry, I yelled that I needed my sleep I yelled that I couldn't do this any longer. I'm tired, exhausted really. The emotional and physical toll of caregiving is immense. Unless you've done it, it's difficult to understand the enormity of caring for someone who needs care full time. And, since I chose not to have children, I'm treading in new territory anyway.
When my friend Jeff took care of his father after a stroke (for 12 years...), I had no idea how difficult his path was. He never told me. He never complained. He'd go home from work for lunch to check on his dad and call in every once in a while that he wouldn't be coming back as there was a 'problem.' I never asked and remember thinking, how hard can it be? Really?! I thought he wanted the rest of the day off. I couldn't have been more wrong.
I'd go over to Jeff's house once in a while to visit his Dad but, had I known, I would have been there more. Had I known, I would have cooked more meals, delivered more cookies, sat with them more often. I'm sorry Jeff.
resources for the elderly. They cheered me a bit so I wandered on; reviewing other Squidoo articles, looking for help with caregiving - looking to connect with someone else who had walked this walk before.
I finally wandered upon an article that changed my morning and my life.
It's called "The Circle of Life...The Elderly End Game and is written by Hanging_In (at this point, I don't know the author's real name but I've emailed her privately and believe we'll be good friends).
It starts with this:
This is my diary about how my Dad's Elderly End Game impacted my life. This is the way I can share my anguish and fear while being tender and caring. This is RAW and REAL for me. If you have been here and have suggestions, be kind. Help me to learn how to do this with grace.
I highly recommend this reading for anyone who is or is contemplating being a caregiver or loves an elderly person or loves someone facing a grave illness.
I read this beautifully constructed article and it changed my life. I went into the kitchen, hugged and kissed Mom and apologized for being angry with her this morning. She beamed a smile at me and said "Don't worry about that, honey." That's my Mom. Always my Mom. Always forgiving and, sometimes thankfully, forgetful....
And, as to the anger - after all, it's not my Mom I'm angry with - it's this aging process. It's the fact the she's changing into someone I don't always know. It's the fact that she's disappearing a bit from my life while she sits right in front of me. It's the fact that there's nothing more I can do to change this fact except to hold her more tightly to me in a hug, to kiss her more often, to stroke her beautiful white hair while she's here with me. To prepare the meals she most loves, to try and keep her entertained, to sometimes let my mind wander along with her's. To give her an extra cup of coffee...
It's the fact that I love her so deeply and want her to be happy. I know that she's as safe as can be and as happy as can be living here with me. I reassure her almost daily that she's not going anywhere I'm not and that I will keep her in our home until I feel that it's no longer safe and, if the day comes when she has to go somewhere else, I will do my best to go with her. I reassure her that she will never be alone.
But, in the end, I'm angry at the The Elderly End Game.
I just put her back to bed after breakfast #1. I will gladly await her arising from her nap for breakast #2 and will willingly make cream of wheat (which I hate making...), toast and will even give her another cup of coffee. After all, it's really the little joys in life that make all the difference, isn't it?