HUGE thanks to all of you who’ve joined in this conversation, either here or more privately, since my last post. It’s beyond humbling and so helpful to know so many of us are traveling together on this Next Right Step path with a parent. As I write this morning, Mom is safely settled in an Assisted Living apartment and her former home is now ready for a new resident. Mom is safe and mostly content. This crisis has passed.
I’m sure there will be another crisis. And I’m sure I’ll soon need to face the seeds of guilt and fear that I often feel germinating. However, I’m choosing to focus on the wisdom of my friend Rodney, when he says, “You’re thinking about the wrong day, darlin’!” So this morning, this moment, I’m going to focus on what I’ve been learning from the process of making The Assisted Living Choice. I’d LOVE to know what you’re learning, too!
Here are my Top 12 (so far):
1. Even when it’s absolutely The Right Next Step, it’s still hard.
2. Take care of yourself.
3. Try to not get so caught-up in The Details that you forget to pay attention to the person you’re moving. If it’s tough on you, just imagine how they feel.
4. Take care of yourself.
5. Don’t worry about nourishing any seeds of guilt you’re feeling. They’ll feed themselves. (more on this in my next post ;))
6. Take care of yourself.
7. When friends, who’ve traveled This Path before you, offer to listen or extend advice/help – ACCEPT!
8. Take care of yourself.
9. Not all Assisted Living Facilities are equal. So don’t just trust online reviews or sales pitches from a Facility’s Marketing Rep. Ask residents. Ask residents’ families. Ask the facility’s front-line employees.
10. Take care of yourself.
11. If you have your parent’s Power of Attorney, be sure it’s registered with the local clerk of court or register of deeds (depending on where you live) and on record with any place (eg. banks, insurance companies, etc) you’d need to use it
12. Take care of yourself.
What are some of your Top Lessons?
3 thoughts on “parenting our parents ~ chapter 3”
I and my brother Nick moved Mom into assisted living in December. It has been difficult–but the memory loss issues that precipitated the decision made it impossibly dangerous for her to stay at my home, and so crazy-making for me, that my ‘caring’ for her was seriously compromised by my level of frustration. At first, she was distressed and her considerable arthritis pain seemed much worse.
Now, five months later, she appears to be mostly pain free. She has made a good friend. She talks of her fellow residents as ‘WE’ instead of seeing them as hopelessly disabled wrecks compared with herself. I have figured out that I don’t need to visit her every single day, and that visits can be less than an hour long, yet still give her what she needs from me.
I have been able to give up the role of medication dispenser, hygiene manager (failing), chef preparing ever blander meals, person responsible for orienting her to day and time multiple times in every hour, safety coordinator . . .
I could go on. Now I will just say that I’m the person who shows up with the cookies she loves, the library books she wants to have handy but no longer reads, and the boxes of Kleenex she consumes as if they were popcorn.
Managing the finances is a task I don’t enjoy, but I CAN handle that. Outings, I have learned, work best if I have a companion with me to stay with Mom and her walker while I park the car. She is apt to just start walking, without quite being able to see where she’s headed.
It IS important to show up regularly both to remind her she is cared for and to spend time with her and ALSO to make sure the staff knows that someone is paying attention, and that details are not neglected.
What I have learned since September:
1. It is much easier to take care of someone who is pleasant.
2. If your parent can laugh at herself, laugh with her. Some of our most fun moments are a result of something she said that didn’t make sense.
3. Don’t laugh over something she can’t laugh about. With my mom, it is not ok to laugh at her lack of mobility or need for help with simple tasks.
4. If you are a regular visitor, you will come to know and love some special residents.
5. Those residents are happy to see you, too. You are familiar to them. Smile, hug them, pat them, help them cut their pizza.
6. Even after Mom got over living with “old, deaf and confused” people and made friends, there are still a couple of women that drive her mad. If you can help your parent avoid people without being rude, do so.
7. There are sacred moments every time I am with Mom. I am also scared half the time.
8. Dying is not a tragedy. Just existing is. I will be sad if Mom ever stops living and just exists.
wOw and THANKS Penny, Jean and all who’ve shared more privately. your generous honesty is humbling, holy and SO helpful.
as i head for Mom’s on Mother’s Day. i’ll carry your wisdom with me – i will hug, take treats for caregivers, cut pizza, push wheelchairs, carry extra hearing aid batteries, change channels, focus on living -v-existing, be grateFULL, and be sure Mom knows she has my complete focus. ❤