Friday, July 16, 2010

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.

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Your mom sounds quite independent really. It also sounds like you mother had a lot of help raising you but at any rate I can tell that together they did a remarkable job.
    2837 days ago
    Hello Karen,
    Your blog is wonderful and so honest. Your wisdom will see you through. "The Aunts" story would be very interesting to read, if you ever feel like doing a serious memoir about your life with four guardian angels.

    2837 days ago
    You are a wonderful daughter. Being a caregiver is often difficult even for those we love dearly. Just do the best you can now. Your mother has pride which in a way is good, but sometimes we all need help. It's just hard to admit it and take it.
    I'm so glad that she's doing as well as she can. Walking a mile a day is great.

    My mother is 87, and not doing that well in some ways. She doesn't exercise at all. She will use her walker to walk when we visit and take her to the mall. That's better than not walking at all.

    We just have to hang in there.

    Take care of yourself also,

    2837 days ago

    Comment edited on: 7/17/2010 5:45:09 PM
    I'm thinking back to the struggles that I had as a child with my mother - always. Difficult to say the very least. When she became ill in '97, it was I who lived but five blocks from her who cared for her until her death in '98. A sibling lived hours away and it was difficult to make the trip here very often. I'm so glad that you, at least, had aunts who made a difference in your life. I'm sure that you mother, at her age, would suffer an indignity at having to give up control of what she now has to allow others, even family, to take over and do for her. It's a very touchy subject and sometimes one that's better left alone and watched from afar as best as one can. My heart goes out to you in this journey and I will pray for all of you.

    2837 days ago
  • JUSTJO66
    Aww, independent people..... it is very difficult to do anything for them. Both my parents are that way (my dad is deceased) and I'm that way, too. Been told more than once that I won't "let anyone do for me". What can I say..... it's very hard to give "up that control".
    Sounds like you have it figured out with your mom..... just keep doing your best.......
    2838 days ago
    It does sound like your mom is a very independent woman and when it comes down to it. I think most of us would rather do for ourselves than know we have to rely on someone else. I am glad she is able to do as much as she can and is willing to. Just be there and watch from afar (like you said) just in case.

    2838 days ago
    My heart goes out to you, Karen. Your mother reminds me so much of my mother, whom I lost 2 years ago. Treasure her and all of her idiosyncrasies.
    2838 days ago
    I have thought before, like with Suz mom and my former MIL in particular, that it must be very difficult to feel you have no control over your life anymore.

    You are wise to let her do as much as she can.

    It's kind of like the terrible twos when a little one is learning their independence from their primary care-giver. The more you let THEM make decisions (which outfit, what for lunch, etc) is the less terrible the twos will be.

    I'm glad you have the aunts, also. Big Italian families are wonderful, and so are you.

    2838 days ago
  • JENNY888
    It sounds like you Mom is very independent as mine is also. My siblings and I have recently resigned ourselves to the fact that she will do whatever she wants to no matter what we say. We realize that our ideas have to be her ideas or it won't happen.
    2838 days ago
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