A VISIT WITH AN 89-YEAR OLD, RETOLD

I knew it had the potential for disaster.  Interaction with my mom, the 89 year old subject of this post, has evolved into continued tricky maneuvers.  It has been a few years since we have known about her level of dementia.  My sister and my mom live in the same city, my sister in her house and my mom in her residence for the elderly.  Since my sister has generally seen to the details of life for my mom; dr. visits, shopping, visiting, for quite some years now (even going back to my mom’s life in her previous residence) the cumulative effect of all this caregiving had begun to take a toll on my sister.  I think it’s valid to point out that my sister is not married and has no children. That, to me, is the equivalent of having enough time on her hands to provide for my mom.  After years of this kind of care, my sister needed a rest.  I stepped in with the agreement of a two week respite away from mom — so, send my mom to me.

The fact that my mom arrived at our house with two tiny handbags and enough clothes for a couple of days worth of changes did not bode well.  This visit was initially planned as a two-week undertaking.  I loaned her underpants and sweaters.  My mom did not find the chatter of my two parakeets to be in keeping with her joy of house pets, which is to say, she doesn’t like animals.  I had to hide the birds in a closet with the door shut.  They were under the impression that night had fallen in that closet and they didn’t make a sound.  I was also paid a visit by my 6-month old grandson whom I babysat for one afternoon during the course of his great-grandmother’s stay. Mom was not accustomed to a baby complete with crying and so she retreated to her bedroom and failed to find much reason to engage in his sweet company.   The March weather conspired against us with its gray sky and wet conditions, there was no enthusiasm for outdoor  walks.  My mom is not enamored with the television and even though I offered to play a DVD for her, she begged off.  No card games, no puzzles to put together, no books to read.  Oh, we have all of that at anyone’s disposal…apparently, anyone that isn’t my mom.  Mom’s stay became abbreviated.

Once we had passed the three-day marker I made arrangements for my mom to return to her home.  It was clearly a disappointing adventure.  I love my mom, but sometimes love isn’t enough.  Accommodating an elderly parent with dementia proved to be a tricky proposition.  One that I and an 89year-old were not equipped to handle with ease.

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