#Mom

My mom just celebrated her ninety-second birthday on December thirteenth. Much of my blog content has included experiences of facing the realities of an aging parent, something I never gave a second thought about when I was in my thirty’s. Taking for granted that my parents had each other and they would always as they grew old. Together, in their own home. But of course, it doesn’t play out like that. After fifty-eight years of marriage they separated with dad passing away from cancer at age seventy-seven.

And although mom remarried at seventy-nine, four years later she was widowed again.

When she was eighty-six we took a road trip to Cardston to visit family; this is when I felt the magnitude of understanding that my mom is now all alone. I witnessed how unsteady she was in the morning, that her memory wasn’t as sharp. That no longer is there anyone to wake up to in the mornings, or say goodnight to at the close of the day. She was living alone in Parksville, an hours drive from me, and it gave me concern. I’ve already written about how I managed with this in other blog posts, so I’ll just say it has been a journey.

The last nine years in spending so much time with her has enriched me more in ways that I couldn’t have expected, leading to an even deeper bond with her. Our mother-daughter relationship became a friendship. We talked about everything, laughed a lot, went on drives; and she shared many thoughts and experiences from her life that now as an adult I can appreciate. I was discovering her as a woman, as an individual.

And all of it comes with heartbreak. Watching someone you love slowly lose ground with advanced aging impacting mobility issues, but coupled with dementia; knowing all the things you know about them that they no longer know about themselves, nothing can prepare you. It is the stage in which the child becomes the parent and the parent becomes the child. But instead of watching your “child” growing vigorous and branching out, you’re watching the regression.

Dementia is a thief. Shrinking an entire life into only immediate confusing moments, each forgotten as quickly as they come. But thankfully, over the last several years it has robbed her slowly. If one can be thankful for such a thing. I am thankful in having had the time to spend closely with her before the disease progresses further. As it always does, as it’s doing now. Thankful again that she is imbued with grace and humour, and optimism. This at least hasn’t waned.

Three months ago my sister and I have finally managed to move our mom down from the care facility in Parksville to one in our city of Nanaimo. A move we attempted over two years before when she moved out of her townhouse, but complications arose that kept her in Parksville. In the years since she’s been widowed we’ve done our best in keeping our mom integrated in our lives, and I think we’ve succeeded, short of having her live with one of us. Which, if one of us could have done, we would have.

 

 

 

Quarantine

There are always two sides to every decision, pro’s and con’s, and when my 91 year old mom had to move into a full care facility last summer it was no different. In her new place she would be cared for 24 hours a day and my sister and I could feel a little less concerned about her being alone on her own at night, the upside to group residential care. All of the stress we all went through over the last few years with our mom was greatly lessened, although it was difficult to see her lose her independence. But mom did adapt to her new surroundings with her sense of humor intact, and some of her personal belongings to make her room quite homey.

With the winter season all residents got a flu shot and even still 12 folks came down with the virus, my mom one of them. The procedure for that is lock down. Fortunately my mom has a cell phone so at least we could keep in daily communication with her while she’s confined to her room.  She greatly misses our thrice weekly drives and lunch outings and my sisters evening visits, but she knows it’s a matter of time to get over it and soon enough would no longer be in her words Hog Tied. It’s into the third week.

Now today we get news that the doctor took a swab from my mom to check on her persistent cough and although she feels good and has energy they tell us she has  HA-MRSA, a.k.a. the super bug. She has been fighting urinary tract infections for several years in which antibiotics were frequently prescribed and then with this last flu outbreak was given more antibiotics. Is it any wonder?

Enter the down side of group residential care. It’s a virulent soup for the prone. When she lived on her own she was never sick.

So now it’s serious lock down but only for her. The other residents are free to come out of their rooms. She is highly contagious, the nurses must “suite up” to care for her we’re told. We’re told it will be one month before they can lift her quarantine, even if the new antibiotics seems to work. The only way to visit her is to stand outside her window and have our conversations over our cell phones.

But that is better than not seeing her at all.

 

 

 

Carry on

Well, that was a hiatus-unintentional, but somehow I think my mind decided it needed some time away from transcribing events for a bit. The “mom/elder care” stuff had to sift down and settle into a nice, neat pillow of contentment and ease, which it has since she has moved into extended care a month ago. I think I was bracing for more turmoil due to the move and so couldn’t relax to write; waiting for the next upheaval, upset, or meltdown. But it didn’t come and shows no signs of pending.

And  while it is heart wrenching when she asks about where her home is, and why can’t she go there and asking us, is this where I am going to live? For how long? She has gently come to understand that this is how it is now.

We have gotten her another iPhone too, since hers had gotten tampered with and broken while she was in the hospital two months ago. We didn’t feel we should replace it then because she really wasn’t doing well, and figured she wouldn’t remember how to use it anymore. But since leaving the hospital she’s back to her old self (well, she is 90), and had asked where her phone was.

My sister then resurrected her i4 and gave it to her. This lasted a couple of weeks before it was put through the laundry by housekeeping (who would think to look in a 90 year olds pocket for an iPhone?) so I brought my i3 out of the drawer and handed it over to my brother-in-law who installed a new SIM card and she’s back in business. My sister also bought a strap-on holder to go on the arm of moms wheelchair. No more wash-day mishaps.

We all still do continue to visit her as before and go on outings, but it does feel good to be able to call her when I’m not traveling up to visit, and she doesn’t feel disconnected from us knowing she can call anytime. It also carries with it some autonomy for her, and something to tinker with during the day.

My shoulders have lowered into their relaxed state and I’m breathing deeper ~

 

 

Round About

We’ve come full circle and as life is certainly a beautiful thing it is also ironic.

In our effort to have our mom moved from up island down to mid island so to be closer to us, her children, we in six months:

Searched out and found new mid-island accommodations in an Assisted Living complex right next door to my sister, prepared her mentally for her relocation, organized the move, garage sales, packing, putting things in storage, sold her car, set up her new apartment, helped her settle in and become acquainted and comfortable with her new surroundings. One month later-boom-in the hospital for moderate complications, which then developed into more complex issues, 3 falls, 2 behavioral melt downs, my sister, brother and I taking shifts to be with her every day for what became a three month hospital stay, advocating for her care, meeting with hospital liaisons, watching her status change from Assisted Living to Full Care in what seemed like no time, then having to move all her things out of the Assisted Living apartment she had recently moved into and put her household back again into storage, then waited for her placement in a full care facility, up Island.

What just happened?

She could afford the private assisted living at $3,000 a month but wouldn’t be able to afford private full care at $7,000 a month, if she could then she would’ve stayed at the complex she was at, she would’ve picked wherever she wanted, but she must take subsidized care for a nominal cost and go where ever the health authority says there is room. And that room was back up island.

The day of the move to Trillium Lodge my brother, sister and her husband and I were with her the entire day till dinner time. She was teary at times, and scared, but the staff were rallying, encouraging and welcoming. We took her outside to tour the grounds, the gorgeous out-door courtyards and gardens that are secured and easily accessed with automatic sliding doors- a big deal for my mom, to feel she can go outside when she likes, especially now that she can scoot herself along in her wheelchair using her feet.

There was a woman playing piano as coffee and homemade cookies were served. We had called a friend of moms who lives nearby and she and her husband came and sat with us, putting mom so much more at ease.

This facility, the lodge, although it is back up in the town she initially moved from, is certainly far better than others that could have been presented. We do have the option, after two months, to ask for a different facility again that is back down mid island, but no, we don’t think so. We’ve done our best and all we could, to have her live close by us, to lessen the constant commuting; to see that she wasn’t alone. We have been committed to looking after her welfare and life quality. That will never change. But we’ve done enough. Because the last thing she needs now is yet another move. And some things are just meant to be. So we’ll let it be.

Truth is she’s in a good place, one that’s familiar to both my sister and I because we worked in nursing in this very same facility 25 years ago. We know the level of care is sincere and attentive even still. And when I called the Lodge the following day to ask how she did for her first night they reported that she slept well through the night, happily ate her breakfast, was cheery and chatted with her table companion and is still, as the day had progressed, doing just fine. No tears. So far so good.

They have a full calendar of events, a great activity staff and tons of outings, and her two room mates are engaging and social. Commuting of course will again be put back on the agenda for all of us, but we can feel all right about spacing them out a bit between my sister, brother and me. Not to be too concerned that she is left alone if one of us doesn’t make it up.

We can all relax a bit now, take some time for ourselves, not worry so much. She’ll make new friends, be busy, in good hands. In good hearts.

What a journey back to where we began.

 

Interloper

Dementia came in and brought its suitcase today. It brought its furniture and all its curios and closed the door on the outside world.

Sheathed in the skin of its host it shone through her eyes with vehement curses, it raised an arm and pushed sincerity and love from its post. Banished all that was once welcome and noble.

It filled in the recesses left there with doubt and defense, with anger. It hissed of betrayals and mocked the heart.

It pulled the shade and allowed no bid farewell.

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Ok. It was a hard day today. Hardest. A cruel appointment with this condition that I have yet witnessed. I am reeling as I sit here having come home from the hospital 2 hours ago. I am alone, but I’m all right that my husband is away working. Even though he would be holding me right now with tears in his eyes saying sincere consoling things, I need to be alone. To process. To write. This helps me sift it all through.

What started as a pleasant day devolved into banishment. All of it directed at me, all of her loses because of me. I am the villain. Hearing her speak of me as she did, turn her face away, but it was her taken over by this is what took the breath out of my lungs.

I won’t take it personally, that is ego and it has no place here, because it’s not her, it’s  not me it’s the disease. But still. It was like a hammer.

I lost her today. But maybe tomorrow she’ll be back and I’ll be reinstated to her heart.

 

 

In Care

DK Brint
DK Brint. Taken from the front entrance of  the hospital ~

Half of my days are spent at the hospital where my mother is still residing. She is still waiting to be placed. Yesterday she was moved back upstairs from the Transitions area of the hospital to the hospital’s 4th floor due to concerns over her breathing. Checked over aside from her A-Fib that was acting up they have decided to keep her there.

Better for her, while down in Transitions she experienced two falls in the last week; other patients had alerted the Care Aid that she had fallen- everyone was too busy. Luckily nothing was broken. A few days later after dinner I brought mom out of the lounge and in front of the nursing station so she could be easier watched. I talked with her Care Attendant telling her the reasons and to please keep an eye on her and I left. Between that time and when my sister arrived in the evening she found she had been put in her room, which was a private room at the far end of the hall, because she was crying too much.  The RN said to my sister that she was too busy to attend her, (what about the Care Attendant?) so moved her to her room until she could get to her. The lights were off, she was sobbing uncontrollably in her wheel chair and at risk of attempting to get up on her own- which is why the previous two falls happened.

The floor was continually short-staffed, that’s my polite version anyway. We (siblings) attend her everyday, like a tag team my brother, sister and I are with her from before lunch to the time she goes to bed. We help by monitoring her meals and feeding her- something she now needs done-by assisting her in the bathroom, by taking her outside into the courtyard for fresh air and sun. It’s very boring in a hospital, we keep her company.

Yes we admit to hovering. We are her family, she is our responsibility. And I stress that it’s important to keep vigilant, to be attentive to how the care is going. Or not going as we kept finding.

My sister and I have been Care Aides in our past, working in Extended Care Facilities. We know how it is. We’ve seen parents essentially abandoned. We are present but we don’t interfere in the normal scheduled care or attention from the staff. But will confront and inquire if there are gaps in this. We are her advocates, we know her better, we are in her corner.

 

Placement

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Leaving for the interior of BC for 2 weeks with Bob on one of his work related trips so I can visit my daughter in Kimberly meant leaving my mom in the hospital where she has spent the last 8 weeks. It meant that as she was being assessed for Extended Care and put “On the List” that there could be changes happening while I was away, that when I returned possibly she will have been moved into a Facility, and will need to brace for that emotional impact.

Mom had gone into the hospital 8 weeks ago because her pulse was racing and erratic and blood pressure was very high (we keep a BP device at her place) so my sister had called the ambulance. They got these under control after a few days and then the plan was to get her back home after she gets her strength back.

She was doing well, moving from the “Hospital” ward down to “Transitions,” a place in the hospital where they prepare you to go home, or to a “Home” if your condition changes. All was proceeding well towards mom returning to her apartment we had just moved her into in March.

Then things began to change.

The last three weeks or so she had been weaving stories about her life, a new thing she had begun to do, all pleasant but we knew them to be fantasies, like being a teacher for two years or planting the whole garden that graced the hospital courtyard we spent the sunny afternoons in. She lately began to say she was hired to look after the hospital floor she was staying on. We would tell her that she’s retired now and doesn’t have to work anymore, but she felt under obligation somehow, and we knew better than try and convince her otherwise. She would come back to “reality” and then chuckle over what she had just fantasied.

Regardless of what narrative she was outlining for herself over the previous weeks she was always cheery,  laughed, and could easily be humored. She always went with the flow.

But because of this new fantasy behavior they felt she needed to be reassessed for Complex Care and give up her Assisted Living apartment. We had to agree, so she was put on The List. Because Private Complex care is financially out of reach for her, upwards of $6,000  a month, we would have to wait for an available subsidized bed in a facility- hopefully in our town.

I should clarify that what having subsidized extended care means in Canada is that the government withdraws 80% of ones monthly income, whatever amount that may be, for the Care Facility and its amenities and that you are also bound to accepting the first bed offered – no matter where it is in a 40 kilometer radius. If the found bed is not accepted the elder is put back at the bottom of the wait list and must be re accessed again, the whole procedure taking many weeks to months. But once in a subsidized bed we do have a choice then, but only after two months in the found facility and if one is unhappy with it, to then pick another bed in the desired facility and wait until it comes available.

But that first found bed must be taken to qualify.

While I’m in Kimberley my sister was notified that a 4 bed ward room had been found in our town for mom, and my sister went to see it. Her heart sank when she saw the conditions, and asked if there could at least be a two bed room for her instead, they got back to her a few days later and said they had one.

This was better news and my sister prepared to move mom in, having 48 hours to do this-as per regulation, but sudden behavioral changes that seemed to possess my mom have been nothing short of Jekyll and Hyde. So dark, so fast. Two weeks ago Bob and I visited her the day before our departure and we walked (strolled) around the grounds had some ice cream and left her after a few hours smiling and calm.

 

And because of this new change in mom we had to forfeit the chosen bed as they have now decided she now needs to be re-evaluated, re-assessed for a placement for Aggressive Residents. I know dementia can progress alarmingly, but this was so sudden.  3 weeks ago she was pleasant, co-operative, and social. Her usual self.

I remain suspect of perhaps medications that were conflicting or wanting to blame the other two women who are fully in Alzheimer condition that shared moms room who were always devious and manipulative and at times aggressive, or even an UTI ( urinary tract infection). I still have a difficult time hearing about and accepting my moms condition.

Thinking that not much would transpire in a 2 week absence, that we would still just be waiting for a bed, turns out I had left town during the most emotionally trying time. My sister keeping me informed via texts and phone calls and shouldering the weight of the turmoil, my brothers helping her where they could, and me fretting on the other end. Mom has now been moved into a private room and will stay in the hospital until they can stabilize her behavior and until another placement can be found.

Bob and I will be home in a few days, and although I have tried to stay focused and enjoy the time with my daughter and all the activities we’ve done, I’ve been mentally preparing myself for a return to a changed parent, and the following stages of a long goodbye~

 

 

 

 

Being There

Sunset over Vancouver Isalnd 2016 D.K Brint
Sunset over Vancouver Isalnd 2016 D.K Brint

If you’re not up on the current stream of my life a large part of it is involved in the care for my 90-year-old mother who presently is in the hospital because of strong chest pains, blood pressure and pulse through the roof. Five days in now and those vitals have leveled out, so good.

10 years ago I never would have thought that caring for an elderly parent would be so all-consuming. 5 years ago I got a clearer picture.

Always thinking of her well-being, is she depressed and sad, does she seem more confused, the ongoing aches and pains and how to alleviate them, finding a suitable residence, the adjustment and settling (or not) in, will she ever feel comfortable in her new place, is she sleeping through the night and if not is she safe, taking care of her finances and ensuring she can live where we have moved her, how are the nursing staff doing with her, is everything getting done, getting to appointments with the doctor, making sure she is getting enough physical exercise, it goes on.

And because I have a tremendously involved sister it is a shared responsibility which is a good thing.

There is little room it seems for anything else.  My husband is working hard too and soon will be away for work for a period of time, and making space for us has been a struggle at times. He has been so supportive and understanding and accompanies me when he can when I do go to mom’s; he enjoys her and loves to see her, but also confesses that if he wants to spend time with me he needs to come along.

I am not complaining, I need to write it out. And it’s my life right now. I do try to fit in some quiet personal time where I can find it – I recognize better now when I’m reaching saturation point, and take steps to defuse.

And I know this sounds corny and high horse but I wouldn’t change a thing.

 

 

New Digs

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Making the decision on behalf of another that will directly affect them is not easy. This is an intersection I and my siblings have approached last year (and the year before) when we thought we had better initiate the call of finding a place for our mom to move into that would put her in closer proximity to us and where she can continue receiving care. Now it is come down to definite action. 

So. Here we are – two weeks after I initially began writing this post- and I’m very happy, and relieved, to say my mom has moved!

She is in a fantastic Assisted Living facility with her own private apartment with a patio, with the added advantage that she is also two blocks from my sister and her husband.

We had looked at Assisted Living Private Care versus Government Subsidized, we crunched numbers to a pulp to ensure that her finances would be sufficient to go with Private Care for the time being because this option would give her a one bedroom, one bathroom suite with kitchenette rather than the fully subsidized suite option of a studio suite- which is just a room with a bed and a bathroom.

We asked questions about enlisting a care aide to escort mom to and from the dining room due to her onset of dementia, and an aide to assist her in her morning and evening care and with her bathing -yes, yes, all her personal care can be arranged through the Health Authority Subsidy with that cost at $21.a day.

So this means mom pays a full rent for her own suite that includes all utilities and great meals in the dining room augmented with Government Subsidized Care for her personal needs.

– insert a sigh here –

We began all this in early February and this last two weeks has been nothing short of hectic and emotionally draining, which is why I haven’t had the gumption or time to write a post. Until 4:30 this morning.

Now it’s 6 am and feeling like I could sleep a bit, do I crawl back to bed for another hour or so? There is still so much to do in the next two weeks to prepare the townhome for listing, garage sales, to settle mom in and help her get accustomed to the new surroundings-will my mind be quite enough for me to sleep?

But my husband has come downstairs and begins to make coffee, and the birds are up too, singing to a rising sun~

If we were having coffee (#Weekend Coffee Share)

If we were having coffee you too would have stopped mid-sip and we would lock eyes because we just heard that today is National Sword Swallowing Day as was just announced on the CBC radio program I am listening to this morning.

Apparently it’s a tradition on the wane.

Well, who knew.

So anyway, today I will be jumping in my boat and heading to town soon to my mom’s place up island. She will be meeting with the people who will be moving her to her new sweet suite in the next few days. Can I get a Hallelujah?

This service is supplied by the Assisted Living Village and once the move date is set the action begins. They pack and unpack, AND hang all art work etc. all in one day- and that is fantastic.

The move is a big transition for all concerned, of course, but will have so many benefits for all concerned too, finally having her in our neck of the woods. No more long drives up and back.

Mom and Bob 2016

Seems many my age have stories of “moving a parent.” I see and hear them everywhere. Stands to reason, there are sooo many Boomers out there doing exactly what I’m doing right at this time too.  A zeitgeist perhaps?

It’s the opposite end of the spectrum of a young parent meeting other young parents with small children. Kind of. You share experiences good and bad and talk of challenges rife with concerns, worries, and conflicts.

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SO I’ll let you go cause it is the weekend and I know you have a lot to do, getting outside to make the most of this (almost) spring day. Here on the West coast we have some sun and the birds have come back from winter, a welcome sound!

Enjoy your day~ 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

The big 9-0

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Well,  that’s a milestone.

A life that has witnessed the horse and buggy to iPhones.

The gathering of the clan, 34 of us, took place on the 13th at my mothers house without a hitch; consisting of her children (4) and the 3 spouses, 5 family friends and filling out the rest were her Grandchildren, and Great-grandchildren. There were 7 other Grandchildren and 9 Great grandchildren and 1 Great-Great Grand child that couldn’t attend.

That’s a hill of beans.

All the little ones managed to avoid toppling the glass coffee table, but there were a few times when a loud bang was heard and every adult stopped mid-conversation to suddenly turn to look and listen for a screaming cry expecting a bruised forehead or worse, but no, just a knee bumped against the glass from jumping too close to the table. They played happily together, these cousins, some who have never met until that day. No tears or tantrums erupted.

It was a good day. A reunion.

I spent the night at her house that night, giving my sister and brother-in-law a night off from staying to help her to bed before driving home, and because of not wanting her to be alone after such a happy houseful all afternoon.

When we had settled down to a TV program after supper she began to confess to me that all the while during her party she thought she was at someone else’s house, that she didn’t recognize where she was. And that she thought we were celebrating Christmas. “That was my Birthday?”  I consoled her by saying that with all the people in the house and the dining room chairs not sitting in the usual spots may have caused a bit of confusion and that it was a busy day and perhaps she was tired. That she’d feel less fuzzy in the morning. She asked “why does my brain do this? I must be losing my mind.” And said that it was very strange.

During the party she was happy and engaged so I was surprised when she said this to me later. She enjoyed the day. But then I remembered when we brought the cake out, sang, and waited for her to blow out the candles she didn’t and had to be encouraged by her friend Peter and by us singing out ” And she huffed and she puffed and she blew…!” twice.

I was concerned a little that she may have difficulty sleeping worrying about her slipping memory, but she slept sound.

The next morning she remembered the “Epic Day”, she read through her birthday cards, we counted all the people that had filled the room, and talked about the children. She was bright and happy and said, “Bless your hearts, all of you, and thank you for that wonderful day.”

 

 

 

Days gone by

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To briefly catch up, I have been busy with my weekly Spanish class which has proven to be a fun and supportive gathering of neighbours as we learn to grasp the language through role play and songs, and I’ve been sitting in on her small intermediate class held later on the same day which helps me in listening comprehension, lots of laughs too- Wednesdays are mi dia de Espanol! Last class is tomorrow.

I was called back to work for two weeks (I opted to remain on the casual list) where it was good to be around my co-workers again, although my reason for being there was on a tragic note, filling in for a good friend and colleague who had lost her 21 year old nephew by suicide. He was like a son to her. Then attending the celebration of life, so many came in support, heart wrenching.

I cleaned out the shed (that was a job, take my word) and on a gorgeous crisp/clear Saturday did a backyard clean up and burn- I love a good bonfire. Primal.

The studio space I am planning is beginning to take form and look forward to start working in the new year.

I’ve also been doing some Holiday baking, something I haven’t had much time for over the last few years, and my moms 90th is next weekend so there is the organizing taking place at the moment. And as for my mom, my visits are steady throughout the week taking her out for walks on the boardwalk on the beach when the weather suits, for appointments,  just being with her.

The featured image at the top of my post is my Garden Angel, I felt she encompasses this post in a way; the approaching Soltice, the grace I feel she expresses when I think of my friends nephew, and my mom’s common response of “Bless your heart” to us or anyway who does a kindness for her.

Found her many years ago in a second hand store and paid $7.00. She has been watching over my growing things ever since.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Give me a moment, I need to think this over.

 

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I had intended to rent my vinyl beach cabin till the end of March but I called the owner on Sunday to let her know I would be vacating at the end of this month.  It’s been three winters now that I rented away from home,  away from my husband.  When I go home on the weekends it just doesn’t feel long enough. It doesn’t help matters that when my husband works he is away for weeks at a time too. I feel out of touch with my home,  with my neighborhood.  Like a visitor.

At the moment my siblings and I are beginning  again to make arrangements to move our mother down to where we all live,  something I was trying to make happen last year because I said to myself,  husband and siblings that I can’t keep living  away form home like this.  But I can’t stand the thought of my mom up here by herself everyday until a weekend when one of us can come and take her out.  She’s unable to drive so she can’t just up and decide to head out on her own.  She’s a shut in.  It was my solution to rent near her although extreme maybe,  and because I was the more flexible of us,  the more independent of us, I don’t know, I just did what I knew I could do, wanted to do without question.

But I most certainly can’t anymore.  I’m feeling stress now.  Of course where my home is has a lot to do with my decision to rent up here, If my husband and I lived in town it would be much less stressful. A move for my mom must happen this summer,  so by the winter she’s settled.  I want her to  be part of our loop by living in our small city.  So my siblings, her grandchildren and great grandchildren and I can  without much arranging  swing by during our day or evening  and spend time with her.  One brother struggles with even affording the gas it takes to drive up here to see her in her current home,  my sister works all week 9-5, my other brother is nearly non existent other than the obligatory visits, but usually it’s just a phone call, on birthdays and christmas.

Gestures of moving her last summer was progressing,  but then it all got bogged down with financial questions that she wouldn’t be able to afford to live in a private Independent Care accommodation.  That maybe she could just increase her home nursing care instead and stay where she is. My mom is part of a Life Interest Estate from her second husband which involves its own set of logistics that had needed to be addressed early on in the process so we would know how to conduct the whole transaction of moving.  So another winter came and here I am.

Now we know she can afford the move and my siblings are now fully engaged.

Just needing to breath all this out, thank you for listening.

 

 

Everybody into the Pool

 

Every Thursday morning I take the day off work to accompany and drive my mom to the local pool for an aqua-fit class tailored to those with limited motion and arthritis. There is a good turn out for this, filling one end of the pool with seniors and a few nearly seniors. The class is led by a young Mexican woman who is affectionately called the Mexican Bandit- she exudes explosive upbeat energy, comic antics, and genuine interest and joy in her bobbing charges strewn before her like so many seal pups in the water.  She gets applause at the end of her classes.

I am there not so much to exercise but to encourage and support my mom and guard her from turning turtle should her feet lose their footing and float up, thus disrupting the fine equilibrium she attempts to maintain between her upper and lower half while following our leader pool side. She’s cursed as a high floater. We’re going to try 2 pound weights on her feet this week to see if that will keep her grounded.

For the most part my mother is just cracking up with laughter. But she’s moving in the water causing the necessary gentle resistance needed to work her muscles, so that’s all good. But side by side we do our best to execute the movements, I coach mom and keep one arm just behind her.

The music is playing with the “Oldies”, giving our movements rhythm to follow, and I smile while listening to many of them sing along- “Love and marriage, love and marriage they go together like a horse and carriage-” That’s so cute, I think to myself and kind of inwardly roll my eyes.

Until Rocky Mountain High by John Denver cues up next. Now who’s singing in the pool?

Peter is a good friend of my moms at a sprightly 81 years of age and comes to this class twice a week (he’s one of the pool singers) and if one would need proof that the exuberance and delight of a boy could still persist in the mind and soul of octogenarian man well, here’s your proof. Like when the Bandit brings out the Noodles Pete’s face lights up and he excitedly says to us, “These are my favorite!” and pushes his way through the water to the pool side to collect three of them and pushes his way back giving mom and me each a pink one of course, the blue one for him. These are for the leg exercises and stronger resistance exercises, but what tends to happen is reclining back and talking with the person who happens to be floating next to you, or in the case of us three, general hilarity.

It’s not how well my mom does the exercises, it’s that she’s up and out of her house, in the pool, moving her parts around, and sharing with others and laughing. That’s a wholesome prescription that really benefits.

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Comings and Goings

So it’s been working out well, this split world I’m presently straddling between my Island home and Parksville. I go “Home” on Friday after work and come back to my Vinyl Cabin Monday after work to spend the week. Dropping by my mother’s for a few hours, seeing how she is, taking her for a walk, taking her swimming for Aqua Fit for seniors every Thursday morning, (I take that day off since my work week is four days on -three off, I can switch out the Thursday and work the Friday), which she is really enjoying. I think we spend more time laughing and floating around while trying to keep up to the instructor. But any movement is good movement!

Most times her good friend Peter meets us there.

My time at home is full too, not wanting to forget I have a man there that needs reacquainting with.

And yet.

I think I may need to come up with a better solution here. Come March I won’t be renting up here as the rent fees go up enormously for the High seasons, but I’ll still be driving up and back nearly each day all throughout the summer when I’m laid off- and Winter will again be around the corner. What will I do then?

Normally I don’t like to think hypothetically, not to cast too far into the future with what ifs. I usually take things as they come, and this tactic has worked for me for the most part. For the other part I would’ve wished I had better planning skills.

It may be that my mom’s condition or situation will change by this time next year, but if it doesn’t and she still remains in her own home will I again look for rentals?

Over the last 10 months we’ve had an RN that comes every morning to assist her with getting up and dressed, to give her a smoothie (banana, strawberries, yogurt, protein powder, and almond milk), and to administer her meds. Twice a week the nurse helps with her bath.

With that, we her children, can feel secure knowing someone is there with her first thing in the morning when she’s the wobbliest, and shakiest. The rest of the day she’s pretty good, other than the fact she’s by herself in a gated community.

It’s up to us to keep too much solitude at bay, to get her out exercising, socializing, engaged, and she needs to be assisted with all of this. She uses a walker, a cane for short distance, and she has  onset of dementia.

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And she’s such easy company, bright outlook, and up for almost anything I throw her way.

The fact is the majority of my life is up here and will be until her situation changes, even if or when she moves into a Full Care Facility, it will likely be up here too. The Care Homes in my town I wouldn’t want to see her in- except for one, but the wait list is years.

How do I….bring it all together into a seamless flow?

Or is this something I’ll just need to continue to juggle?

Thoughts of buying and moving here are swimming around my mind…

 

 

 

 

Here and There

I have been grappling with this particular issue lately. At this juncture in my middle-aged life (as with millions of Boomers) it involves the concerns of caring for a parent, who if fortunate enough to have reached into their octogenarian years, appreciate and need their children’s attention.  A role reversal if you will.

My post heading Here and There is most illustrative of my current residential condition.

As you may know from my profile I live on an island and commute by boat each day to work. And now that I’ve been attending to my mom who lives on her own and is one hour away logistics have to be managed. Now from work I can be up There  (Moms place) in 25 minutes – no problem- but during the winter the days are then dark and wet or icy and to drive back Here  (home) after a day at work and traveling up to see mom makes for a long, long day with burn out waiting in the wings.

So last year I had rented a trailer a few minutes from her house up There to alleviate the return commute each evening. It was simple. On weekends I would return to husband and home back Here, and my sister would then be available to assist and visit our mom then.

Not the best recipe for the happiest of marriages but he is very supportive and understands the condition.

To move her to a closer proximity to us, her children, into an Assisted Living home is proving to be a lengthy process of waiting for assessment (which we are) to then be placed onto a waiting list. Which presently is at one year.

She is best where she is for now. And we can make it work.

But coming up to this winter I thought I wouldn’t “move” away again. I  decided to retire from my work at the university, that my mom is now my occupation. I could then spend the day with her, getting her out to swimming and walks, errands and appointments returning to my island home by the early evening. Happy wife, happy husband-

Well I was pretty set with that decision for several weeks.

Then I decided again.

I decided instead to once more look for a place to rent for the winter. I enjoy my work. I’m not ready to stop. I will give it one more winter. She may move by next year, she may not, or she may be gone. But one more winter.

And the sad truth be told, It is a temporary situation. It could all change in a heartbeat.

 

 

 

 

Maxine

She’s my mother. I don’t call her Maxine when we’re together, just mom. But I probably would feel comfortable using her name. I think when the relationship between parent and child cross over to something more resembling friendship perhaps Given names of parents could be used. So Maxine is 89 but really is one of those Young at Hearts. Her one big frustration is limited mobility, saying If it wasn’t for my back and knees I’d be roaring around!

That, and then there is the onset of dementia that has her repeating comments and questions frequently. And if there is a little too much going on around her she can’t quite follow. But most times she can engage in great serious conversation and some seriously funny ones too.

I’ve come to know from spending so much time with her and having lengthy discussions about everything from alien/human hybrids to fashion that she was secretly her family’s black sheep. The non conformist at heart.