If you have been following my blog for any amount of time, you probably know that I am taking care of my mom. My goal has been to keep her at home instead of the nursing home.
Let me just say right now that we are very fortunate to have one of the nation's top rated nursing homes in my town, just 90 seconds away from my home by car, and it is wonderful. We have experienced other nursing homes over the past five years and this one is an absolute blessing.
Anyhow . . . please let me just tell you a little bit of what has been going on. They say it is good to vent, and here I go. I hope you will forgive my rambling, I think it is a very healing thing for me to share this with all of you. And PLEASE understand, this post isn't to whine and complain and tell you how hard I have worked, but to enlighten those of you who haven't yet experienced this situation, so you can appreciate those who are caring for others. I feel it has been a privilege to care for Mom. She took wonderful care of me, and I am happy to do the same for her.
My mom has battled cancer, arthritis, and has survived losing both my dad and her mother within 3-1/2 days of each other. She also has severe osteoporsis, and has had four or five falls over the last few years resulting in bone fractures. She has spinal stenosis, which has also been progressing over the past four or five years.
Being the only child in town, I have been pretty much managing her affairs and seeing to her needs during this last five years. As time has progressed, so has my level of involvement. What started off as going shopping, seeing to her meals, doing laundry, and driving her to appointments has progressed to giving her showers, seeing to all her personal hygiene, taking over her financial affairs, writing bills, managing appointments, and all aspects of running her home.
Busy, busy, busy!!! Even though I am a stay-at-home mom, running two households can get to be a little tricky! So when am I going to find time to work on the patterns? Hmmmmm.
Now, sadly, we are at the point where she can no longer do anything for herself. Thankfully, my sister quit her job and came to live with Mom to give me a break last year. Other than me filling in so she could get out of the house or go home for extended weekends, she took care of everything. It was a much needed break, and I greatly appreciate her putting her life on hold for us. She ended up staying much longer than she planned, but finally a couple months ago she returned home. She was amazing, and my hat is off to her for being there 24/7. It is a different situation when you are caring for a demanding toddler, because you are the mom and you can say now be nice, sit still, have patience, and tell them because I'm the mom, that's why! When you are dealing with a demanding elder it is a different story. You can't speak to an adult the way you would a child, and sometimes they don't realize how demanding or crabby they might be, and it is frustrating. Mom has been in and out of the nursing home for rehab for strengthening after falls, and each trip home has been harder and harder. She still wants to be home, and after everything she has been through I am determined to keep her there until it is no longer possible. Of course I am crossing my fingers, praying, and wishing for renewed strength and a little more time at home.
This post is my gift to all of you caretakers, mothers and fathers, husbands and wives, and those grandparents who are raising or helping raise grandchildren. Taking care of people is one of the noblest and most heartfelt things you can do. I do believe there is a special place in Heaven for all of us.
I thought it was difficult taking care of Mom over the last several years, but now I realize that was not nearly as difficult as it could be, and will be. She could barely stand with help, and has been transported by wheelchair to bed, bathroom, and to her favorite blue chair. I can't begin to tell you about the aches and pains and muscle strains trying to lift her, and let's not even get started about my poor knees, who are on the way out!! There is a LOT of bending involved in dressing someone, you just wouldn't believe it till you did it! I would literally plop onto the couch with exhaustion when I got home at night.
She cannot be left alone at all, and I am managing with the help of a wonderful daughter-in-law and family friend, and my son who lives with my mom. My husband has even spent the night, and has gone to her home early mornings to fill in during the 1-1/2 hour time frame that my son has left for work and my morning helpers arrive. I would get to Mom's early afternoon and stay till she is in bed, around nine or so, seven days a week. Even when someone else is there taking care of her, she constantly calls me for various reasons. I think it just reassures her to hear my voice. Oddly, every time she is in the hospital or nursing home she seems to get more frequent spells of confusion, resembling dementia. Once she is home it goes away. A little forgetfulness and confusion, but much less.
I once walked into her hospital room where she was staying after a fall. She was alone in her room, sitting in a wheelchair, chanting my phone number. She was confused, but somehow must have felt that if she could reach me she would be safe. It broke my heart, and actually brings me to tears just writing about it. My Aunt Diane, her sister, says I am her lifeline.
Yesterday, I took her for her followup doctor's appointment. I told him of how she seems to be worsening. He did a few motor coordination and muscle tests, and asked more questions. He suspects Parkinsons disease. I am kicking myself thinking I should have noticed the symptoms and connected the dots. You see, my husband also has Parkinsons. He is still in the early stages, but there is some progression. I am aware that the time will come when I will once again be a caretaker, but maybe this time for him. Then again, who knows what the future holds, maybe him for me. I do know that once Mom can no longer stand on her own I can no longer keep her home. It will be a sad day, but it is inevitable. Until then, I guess my purpose in life is to care for others. This really won't be hard. I have always been a nurturing person. First my four children, and the grandchildren, and now Mom.
I still plan on launching my pattern business to supplement our income once my husband can no longer work. It is taking so much longer than I imagined, but I have to do what is the most important thing first, which is taking care of Mom.
Last week Rose, our family friend who is one of the two people helping me, called to tell me that Mom could not get up out of her chair and needed to go the bathroom. I ran over to her house, and once I was there I realized something was very wrong. She was weak and shaky and didn't look well at all. We called for an ambulance to transport her to the ER. They said all her levels were fine, but admitted her for observation. Her doctor recommended rehab, once again. So back to the nursing home we go. They are still using a lift instead of letting her try to stand on her own, she is just that weak. If she gets strong enough, and I can get her in and out of her chair to take her to the bathroom and get her in bed I can take her home - even if just for a little while. I am praying she will improve, because I am just not ready to call it quits.
I would like to thank each and every one of you caretakers out there. I know of several of you whom I have met through blogging. Please accept my sincere thanks and appreciation for all you do for those in need, on behalf of those who may not be able to express their gratitude.
Whether caretaking is a job, or if you are helping a family member, friend, or handicapped child, I know that it is one of the hardest jobs there is. I see so many of you around me now. I guess now my eyes are opened and I am noticing more. Everywhere I look I am seeing elderly people with caretakers. I am amazed at what great lengths you go to to care for others. I appreciate your kind words, your warm encouraging smiles, your gentle touch, and your patience. I see the appreciation upon the faces of those being cared for, and I am brought to tears nearly every day visiting in the nursing home and seeing all you angels on earth making a difference in someone's life.
Sadly, my mom is starting to go in and out of dementia. She really does not seem to understand the great lengths people are going to in order to care for her.
Sometimes I look into those blue eyes and I know that she might not realize how hard I have worked to care for her, but I hope she somehow feels deep down in her soul that someone loves her very much, and will be here for her, no matter what.