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.