One of the most difficult processes of getting older is having your parents age and you really see the change in how the relationship grows. As a child you see your parents as the teacher, nurturer, and caregiver. Though you may not have enjoyed the lessons taught, especially during the teenage years, it all starts making sense as you mature, and then…
The role of teacher, nurturer, and caregiver slowly changes. My mom is amazing in that she had so much to truly offer mother to daughter. However, today we are both learning about how we care for dad, what is best for him and her and how these decisions affect the whole family. In just the five months that my dad has been living with me and the family (mom had gotten ill, so he came home with us) my husband, daughter and I have seen a decline in his awareness due to his dementia. The slightest things that he was able to remember are no longer easy for him.
Just the other day, we were preparing for dinner and I asked him to help me with setting the table for dinner. Unfortunately, I haven’t been home as often due to my work schedule, so I am only eating at home with them about twice a week. I don’t want them to eat as late as I do. So instead of walking to the dining room with the fork and knives in hand, he begins to walk through the hallway toward the living room as though he was going elsewhere. With a gentle redirection he found the dining room and placed the utensils on the table. I can hear someone asking, is it a big home? No. The kitchen’s utensil drawer to the dining room is about three steps. He was facing the dining room!
What is happening is that deep conversation with mom considering how their transition will affect her and him. Positively she has completed her physical therapy and even made mini meat-loafs with her once fractured humerus and wrist (yes, same arm two different incidences). I have to remember at the start of this decision making process, I must respect her decisions and be understanding that she has been married to my dad for 45 years. All decisions will be hard!
This is the part of growing up where no matter what the pro’s and con’s list may have no decision will be the perfect decision for the caregiver or the person living with dementia, but it will be a decision made with respect, care and safety. It will be one that must be lived day to day.
© 2013 Jewel Williams
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