89 and counting

Today was my mother’s birthday. I invited two of her neighbors over for cake and coffee. The two neighbors (one 92 and the other in her late 70s) chatted and laughed together while my mother sat silent. I tried to draw her into the conversation, but the truth is that she couldn’t really hear what the others were saying. My mom adamantly denies that her hearing and vision need major correction (and not just new eyeglasses). It’s really too bad because she keeps finding herself on the fringes of any group because she has no idea what anyone is talking about. A lifelong habit of “denial” is hard to break.
I hope that, as I get older and lose even more of my faculties, I will refuse to deny my failings. Well, I already have hearing aids that I use so that I can hear TV, movies, and whispered conversations. And I remember getting my first pair of bi-focals when I was in my forties. I just hope that when I start getting paranoid and not recognizing people I still have enough smarts left to be honest with myself ask for help — medicinal and otherwise.
I’m not sure that I have enough patience to see this caregiving responsibility to the very end. I have arranged for someone to keep my mom company once a week for a few hours so that I can get out into the larger world of friends and massage therapists and book stores.
I am finally feeling overwhelmed by the burden of being responsible for someone who is so dependent emotionally and psychologically.
I am feeling sorry for myself today. I wish I had my old life back.

3 thoughts on “89 and counting

  1. Good move getting someone to come in so you get some time for you. Important to remember there are TWO people involved in this situation, and both need care. No, it’s not important, it’s critical.

  2. I’m so glad you are getting out, getting away, escaping back into the more normal reality of YOUR life, even if it is for a few hours, once a week, a breather, some oxygen to bring you back around. I can’t believe you’ve held out this long. Maybe it’s good you are coming to the realization that you might not “have enough patience to see this caregiving responsibility to the very end.”
    I don’t know many who do. I tried it for a long time myself, it is a thankless job, no one seemed to appreciate the tremendous pressure it brought, day in, day out, or the life energy it sucked out of me, as it wore me down, stripped me from myself, and eventually, I ended up needing hospitalization for pneumonia, a luxury in which I couldn’t allow myself to partake, because who else was there, to take care of Mom? Those same family critics that “would have done things differently” were not there, were never there, when I needed them to take some of the burden off my shoulders.
    I lost my job, my health, my savings, part of my sanity and in the end she found a wealth of new friends and activities in her senior care center that I couldn’t provide her. If I had only known how easy it would be for her to make the adjustment I would have taken those steps much sooner. But everytime I suggested it, she would start to cry. Then I would start to cry and the guilt washing over me would snuff out any guilty hope and selfish desire I had to be free.
    So, I know where you are, I’ve watched you wrestling now for almost three years and marvelled at your persistence to overcome the loss of your self.
    Question: if she is near deaf and blind, will she even have the sensibility to notice much difference in her days, other than the temporary indignation she feels at being placed in a care facility that will better suit her needs? She will get over that soon enough. And her indignation will have nothing to do with you, even though she will label it your fault. Mothers are experts in the guilt department, selfishness at its best.

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