So many of you have commented on my Remember? blog or sent me private emails about your own parents in the throes of Alzheimer's, some form or dementia or just old age, that I thought I should update and clarify.
We did go to the cardiologist, she actually saw and was examined by two of them. She has an irregular heartbeat that really alarms any medical professional that hears it, but doesn't have much in the way of symptoms from it. The two of them consulted and decided not to change her meds in any way; not putting her on Coumadin, which they were considering, because she is legally blind and can't be very observant if she's bleeding or not, and it is a dangerous drug that needs to be closely monitored.
Basically they said that she's in great shape for the shape she's in. Nothing can be done for the problems she has at age 87 and she is living with it all pretty well. They were impressed that she can still walk a mile a day, ride the bus and go to water aerobics.
The morning we went, her mind was sharp and clear. It is that way most of the time, with only lapses now and them. As long as she's clear more than not, she's doing ok.
Most of the problems between us come up if I try to help her. She'd rather go to a free clinic than have me or my sons pay for her dental work. She'd rather live in low income housing than have us subsidize her rent. She'd rather wait for the bus than have someone take her in a car every time she wants to go somewhere. She is familiar with her own level of living and getting by and does best when left there. So, I find that as long as we let her have her way, things go smoothly. (We do best who watch covertly from afar.)
My mother didn't raise me alone. I was watched over by a group of Italian women I refer to as The Aunts. Only two of those four women are still living. I wrote a blog about one of them some time ago.
One day I'll write about the two I still have in my life.
They, my mother's sisters, stepped in where my mother was unwilling or unable. They made my life so much better than it would have been as the only child of a single parent in 1948. I'm pretty sure The Aunts caused me to be sane and sensible and responsible. That good sense and responsibility is what brought me to this point in life where I'm able and willing to care for my mother, in whatever way she can receive that care.
My heart goes out to all of you who wrote me and those of you I've never heard from who have difficult parental responsibilities and concerns once your
parents reach a certain age. It's heartbreaking, energy sapping, frustrating and sad. As a parental caregiver, no matter if you live with your parent or only care from afar, you are a Hero, a Special Citizen, and should receive all our respect and admiration and prayers.