I’m a daily DailyKos reader and until now have only been a lurker. But because this is the winter of my discontent, I’ve decided to jump in. My sister-in-law Nancy introduced me to DailyKos a few years back to take the sting out of the Bush years. Nancy’s mom is the delightful 96-year-old Charlotte Lucas of Kos travel diaries fame.
So, why am I blogging now and why not about politics? It’s because I find myself unable to concentrate on the world’s larger problems which have been a passion with me for decades, and from what I've read I've come to see that Kos people are smart and compassionate and perhaps can give me a tip or two...
My sister Deb died in November at 57, after a four year battle with cancer, leaving behind a devoted husband, three children, eight grandchildren, seven loving brothers and sisters, and our 93 year old mother. This loss has saddened me to an extent I did not expect. I figured I had plenty of time to be ready for it, but in reality it knocked me off my pins.
My big problem now is my mom who is finally succumbing to dementia after a long, high-energy life. As Nancy says, it’s a case of losing my mom inch by inch.
Mom used to live in her own condo in northern San Diego County where Deb used to check in with her daily. We moved her to an independent living facility about a month before Deb died, so now she lives near me and four of her other middle-aged children in Pasadena. We are all sharing the responsibilities, but as daughters the primary physical care giving has fallen to me and my youngest sister Diane.
Although mom is lucky to have the money to stay in a nice facility, and although my sibs all pitch in big time, and although I have a good shrink and I do take an antidepressant, I’m finding mom’s decline debilitating to my spirits. I retired in June after 37 years of teaching secondary school in downtown LA, so I have the time to care of her, but I’m finding the open ended day to dayness of it difficult. I am trying to figure out how to get her to accept a paid caregiver a few hours everyday, but six weeks ago she refused to cooperate with the young woman we hired to make sure she took her meds. But that was during her initial adjustment to her new living arrangements. She seems more docile now, and perhaps more accepting. We’ll see.
We had to take her to the ER twice during the last two weeks. The first was for a torturous day treating a severely impacted bowel. Diane took her home with her for several days after that and nursed her back to good enough shape to enjoy Christmas Day at our house.
The second ER visit was two nights ago, New Year’s Eve, for a fall outside her apartment. She said she’d gone into the hallway "looking for ice cream." Obviously, her recollection of how the fall occurred is murky. The staff responded immediately and called the paramedics. She broke no bones and basically came away with a large bruise on her buttocks. My husband and I got her home to our house near midnight. She was cold, so I helped her into a hot bath, put her in a pair of my pajamas, and put her to bed on the foldout in our only extra room. She fell asleep immediately. At three, she woke up and made her unsteady way to the bathroom. When she came out, she kept saying, "cold....cold." There were four blankets on the bed already, and the heater was on, but I climbed in with her to give her body heat. She fell back asleep, and I went back to my own bed.
She spent most of yesterday, New Year’s Day, sleeping, and then in the afternoon I took her back to her place where she immediately put on a nightgown and got in her own bed. My brother John and Nancy came to visit, and I did a little light housekeeping and made sure she took her meds.
I went back to John and Nance’s to relax by watching the Rose Bowl game, but found myself, as usual, feeling downhearted. Nancy made comfort food and invited my husband and another close friend over for dinner. Food and wine and my nearest and dearest helped a lot, and after dinner I went home and slept deeply.
I woke up this morning with the same bad feelings. Nancy says to write to get my feelings out, so that’s what this is all about. So I’ve written. Last night, I read other Kossack’s experiences with caring for an elderly parent, and that did help. Anybody out there want to respond to an all too common reason for middle-aged sadness?