It is a paradigm shift in the life of the grown children of a living elderly parent, at some point tables are turned and the child becomes the nurturer and the parent the child.
And I don’t mean this in a condescending way; it’s a role that has slowly, gently segued into play. A role that is quietly acknowledged by both.
So far the dementia my mother has is not yet too threatening as to her being left on her own for periods of time; she has mostly good days but, as my siblings and I are now noting, these are beginning to slip under an opaque layer of confusion, tipping the balance. Still, she can laugh at her short memory and never worries about tomorrow. She is graced with a bright optimism that is ageless.
My sister and I we are a team. She is an exemplary sister, a good daughter, and I’m thankful she is here, it’s a lot to handle alone, physically and emotionally. Because of the nurse that comes one hour each morning to assist with the morning things, giving medications, helping with bathing and dressing, fixing a breakfast and ensuring she is all right, we can feel secure in knowing someone is there, because we can’t be. We are there the rest of the time doing everything we can do to help her remain in her own home happy and comfortable.
My sister and her husband, being 15 minutes away have begun to go to her house in the evening after work to assist her with getting ready for bed, calling first and asking if she wants her to come up and sometimes mom will reply that she’s fine, she’ll be all right. Other times she say’s ‘ Well, it would be good if you did’. I go up every other day – I’m kind of the activity committee, we go down to the boardwalk along the beach for walks, sometimes for lunch; well actually a lot of the time, and general out and about. Some times I’ll stay the night.
Our brother comes when he can, but he has some health issues and needs to take care of himself first. Her good friend Peter comes every other evening to join her for dinner, and there are the folks from her church that stop by every so often and a couple of neighbors that do so as well. And the fact that she lives on a gated, quiet single street is one less concern when she ventures outside with her walker.
It’s a challenging time, but our hearts are full and in the right place I believe. It’s where we want to be, it’s the least we can do, it’s the most we can do.