Monday, May 17, 2010

THE GOLDEN YEARS

The last ten years of my life I've spent being caregiver to my elderly parents. My stepfather passed away almost two years ago, but due to the circumstances of his death, I have yet to begin the closure process. In a past blog entry, I mentioned the "empty pod" that calls itself my mother who lives in the house with me and how she has an intimate relationship with her rocking chair.

What I haven't emphasized is how her general health is better than mine, yet she chooses to do nothing and gets highly offended any time I try to address the problem. This woman, my mother was an talented artist up until about 5 years ago, a talented seamstress who in past years made all her own clothes and a talented cook. She loved to read, do crossword puzzles and run the roads. Now she does NOTHING, but sit and rock all day everyday. She neglects her personal hygiene and has to be shamed into taking a shower. She became deficient in Vitamin D because she won't drink milk or go out into the sunlight. As a result she was given 50,000 units of Vitamin D to take once weekly for 3 months. When asked if she's depressed, she always looks surprised that anyone would ask her that question and denies feeling depressed. She does take an antidepressant. In fact, she has tried many antidepressants over the past 5 years. Her doctors are at their wits ends because they can't determine if she's actually depressed or not. We have weaned her off the antidepressants at various times to see if her behavior changes without them and she acts exactly the same with or without them.

The straw that broke the camel's back happened a couple weeks ago. I purposely stay out of her bedroom because I don't need to have one more thing added to the list of things that upset me. About a year ago I had my daughter cleaned my mother's bedroom from top to bottom because it looked like a Turkish bizarre. What a traumatic ordeal that was! You couldn't see the floor due to all that she had stuffed into her room. My mother has always been a pack rat, but I don't think the actual hoarding has gotten any worse as she's gotten older. I think it just looks worse because she doesn't clean anything anymore.

I walked into her room to find shorts that she claimed she didn't have and found them in the second dresser drawer I opened. I also found the bag of summer shirts I had put on her bed several months before set on the floor in front of her dresser. I picked up the bag and turned to put it on her bed so she would get the hint to put them away and not just set the bag back on the floor and then it happened! I blew my top! What I stood looking at almost made me vomit. By this time my mother had scurried into her bedroom because she doesn't like anyone in there "poking around".

I didn't even try to bite my tongue because I had taken all I could. As I gazed at her bed which was coated with about an inch of cat fur and had cat vomit all over it, I asked her who in their right mind would sleep in something like that. I asked her when she planned to change her sheets. I told her that her hands were not broken and that if she needed help all she had to do was ask. All I could do was shake my head as I tore off the sheets that I wanted to burn instead of trying to wash. What can you say to someone who would do that and who obviously sees nothing wrong in it?

I don't want to spend the rest of whatever time we have left together being angry at her. I would like to think I am here to add to her quality of life, but she bucks me every chance she gets. She makes everything seem like getting my teeth drilled without Novocaine. I was so upset by this incident, I even talked it over with my yoyo inspector. She told me to take the reins and confront her with the fact that there is something wrong and that we needed to address the issue. I told her that her living like she does has gotten out of hand and that if adult protective services were ever notified, I would get in trouble for allowing her to live like she's been living and that most likely they would be removed her from the house and placed her somewhere else.

I then set her up a schedule of things she has to do each week and I took her to be screened at a memory disorder clinic as recommended by my yoyo inspector. Their findings indicated that she might have a problem and that she should have their comprehensive evaluation. When I approached her with all of this, she accused me of wanting to put her away someplace. That felt like a slap in the face and was as far from the truth as anything could be. I promised both my stepfather and her that I would keep them at home as long as I could. If the decision was up to my siblings, they would have put her away long ago just because they don't want to have to deal with any issues they think are unnecessary. I guess to them aging is unnecessary. They never participate in anything, but readily give their criticism and they never offer any help not even any moral support. I don't happen to share their views on the elderly and feel a person should stay in their own home as long as they possible can.

I have tried to reason with my mother by saying I would think she would want to stay as healthy as she could for as long as she could and this includes staying mentally healthy. I told her that if she had some physical ailment, we would go to the doctor to seek treatment and this problem needs to be treated in the same way so she can have better quality to her life. I told her that being old is no excuse for giving up doing all the things she used to love to do. I told her that just saying she isn't depressed isn't enough. Actions speak louder than words and that her actions tell me that there is something wrong. So far things are strained at best. I think she believes I'm trying to get rid of her and that hurts. I can only hope she'll process all this over time and see I'm just trying to help her and not hurt her.

Gratitude statement: I'm thankful for people like my yoyo inspector who give me guidance and help keep me grounded.

All gibberish within ©2004-2010 Mildred Ratched Memoirs.

13 comments:

  1. oh, sweet jesus, this entry scares the crap out of me. i've promised my own mother that I would never put her in a home, even if I had to someday live with her. (the reason is that when my 106 year old aunt was finally put into a home, she died within weeks...constantly saying that she wanted to go "home.")

    and, like you, i seem to be the one who shoulders most of the problems where the parents are concerned...even though there are THREE sisters all within five minutes of her.

    you have my complete sympathy and I'll be paying close attention to what you say and do in the future, on this matter.

    all I can think of is how my mother always said, "Someday you'll pay for your raising." Little did I know...

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  2. Jnuts, there's more and I will continue to write about the various issues as they arose and still arise, but I needed to walk away from it for alittle awhile and take several deep breaths. I really do think I need to get drunk...(maybe my daughter will make me a tray of jello shots and bring them over to me...hint! hint!)

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  3. It was hard for me as I read the words you wrote concerning your mom. I really have no clue as to what you are going through. It must be such a hard thing to see her act the way she does. Knowing of all the abilities and talents she has. Clearly there is a problem. My thoughts go of course to my own mom. 16 is way to young to lose ones mom. Going through so many things at that age.Only to have watched her suffer in pain 6 years before her passing. Still was not easy to let go. I missed so much time with her. She missed my wedding. Never met my husband or knew my kids. Didn't even see me grow up and graduate ( I did it mom). She was a strong beautiful woman....Cheerish yours....:)I know you do...

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  4. Personally having had a crazy mother I found that the relationship could never be altered and that she would never in the end listen to me. On some level I think you just have to give up. One small suggestion I have is that threatening (or actually doing) to bring in female relatives or contemporaries who were or are her peers might shame her into acting a little better but I am not optimistic.

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  5. I think you read my post about my crazy mom, anyway, now she has Alzheimer's and is in a nursing home. She fell and hospital would only release her to a nursing home. Up to that point she was in denial. I lived 2,500 miles away, and my older brother was just minutes from her. She is safe now. Back to YOUR mom---she needs an MRI and if she refuses or that is too much for you then it really is time for her to go to a nursing home. Remind yourself, YOU, that this is for her safety. YOU are doing your duty by protecting her. If you do not find a place for her where professionals can give her 24/7 attention, then you have broken the intent INTENT of your loving promise---to keep her safe and have as good an ending as possible. Do not sell yourself short. You deserve a good life too. As daughters we can only do so much. She needs more help than one person can give. Has she loved you? In her right mind would she want you to have to deal with such a situation? My aunt (now 103) fought tooth and nail, all 90lbs of her, to stay out of a nursing home...had she stayed where she was (with my mother!) she would have fallen, gone to hospital, ended up same place. YOU, NOW, have a chance to look over places and choose the best one you can get for her. If you wait until an accident happens, the state steps in and YOU are without options. She is angry, depressed, and done. But she is prideful and will never admit any of that. Let her keep her pride(sounds like you have no choice) and you keep your sanity. My heart goes out to you. The mother of your youth is gone. Keep fond memories and deal with the person left behind as best you can.

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  6. One component that has not been considered in Diane's advice is the financial side. Not everyone has the money to stay in a home. It then becomes incumbent on the rest of the family to help. That is not always do-able. And why would any mother in her "right" mind want her children to go into debt for her?

    To put her in a state-assisted home is no better, as any monies available (savings, insurance, trust funds, pensions, etc.) are going to be gobbled up first. Turning family over to the state is not cost-free.

    Nowadays, it seems so easy for people to want to "dump" problems off on someone else.

    And who says professionals are any better or safer? Horror stories abound.

    There is no easy "one-size-fits all" answer.

    While I agree that we all deserve a good life, and need to take care of ourselves in order to take care of family situations, I couldn't put my needs above those of my parents. I owe them that much. I can live a good life after they've gone.

    Just my opinion. It matters not to anyone but me, however, since the forum is open...my two cents.

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  7. how frustrating
    well, if you are damned if you do, and damend if you don't - always go with what you feel is intuitively right.

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  8. Very frustrating.
    Lois and I did home hospice at our home as my mother slowly died from cancer. It could be difficult at times. There were no mental issues and everything for the most part was normal, except for the fact that we ultimately knew that she was dying.
    As all of this was going on, Lois' mom (who incidentally was blind from birth) had become very messed up with Alzheimer's. It was hard to even think about doing home hospice for two mother's and there was no more room in our house at the time because Lois' brother was watching over my mom during the day. Eventually we had to put Lois' mom in a rest home and it was awful. Imagine taking a blind woman out of her home and placing her into a strange surrounding while she is slowly losing her mind. Lois' brothers and sister couldn't help because they also had similar circumstances going on as we did. It wasn't that there were family members who couldn't step up, it was just difficult for most of us.
    What made it so hard was that we had to drive a couple of towns over just to see her on the weekends. As time went on we were just visiting a stranger. My mother-in-law was also my wife's best friend.
    I think if we had to do it over again, we would still do what we did the first time, painful as it was.
    I feel bad when I hear about people faced with these kind of situations. They are so hard on everyone involved.

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  9. what really hurts is when this pod who sits around doing nothing seems to suddenly become her old self when her oldest son comes down to visit- gets up, gets dressed, goes out with him, smiles,cooks, interacts... and when you call her on it she says "well she has something to look forward to". It breaks my heart to know the ones who are with her everyday are just a blimp on her radar but someone who gives her a call every now and then is what makes her happy! ok enough ranting because believe me my mother hasn't even broken the surface with her tales on this subject and I get upset because the woman I call Grandma is not the fun loving, naughty lyric telling, person who use to tell me she loved me more than anything and instead I get this "pod" that has a robotic laugh and who never says "I love you" or hugs you unless you initiate it. Gosh I miss my grandma, I really, really do...!
    Mom request for jello shots heard.... I will bring the green ones over! Do you think if we gave Grandma one or two she would get a little energized??

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  10. I see we have various opinions on this subject...good! It's a subject needing to be discussed.

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