This week’s blog is from guest contributor Marla Brown.
I grew to despise the word…..FINE. Starting out in the early stages of progressive Alzheimer’s with my Mother, I too, believed she was FINE. After all, her husband of 44 years had passed and now she was alone. Still, FINE was not a great word to describe her status, it was an OK word to use.
As the weeks turned into months however, her phone calls to me escalated and I could not see anything positive in the word FINE. NO now, she was not FINE. “Oh, your Mother is FINE”, she just misses your father. She “is still grieving”. “Leave her alone, she will be OK”. DUH – if I had indeed left alone, she would never have made it alone being FINE.
The friends/family that used this word frequently did not partake in Mom’s care as closely and frequently as I did. They did not go to her home 5 out of 7 days a week to check on her/bring her food/help her in her home, they did not answer her 20 phone calls per night. Mom did not show up at their backdoor frantic and panicked because she couldn’t get me on the phone. They didn’t see the declining issues with cognitive impairment and memory (oops maybe they did) – let me reword that – they probably did notice it, but they didn’t have to DEAL with it as I did. Her eating habits had caused her to lose weight, her once impeccable hygiene was lacking, the front yard had grass over a foot high, her physical appearance was deteriorating, her mood swings were now obvious (well I can speak for myself), and her short term memory had plummeted.
Mom was FINE? I think not.
Then there are always the family members that want peace and tranquility for all. The Clan needs to stick together. It sounded a little lopsided to me – but OK I tried. But I have to refer back to the FINE word. Now it is not even listed in my words used to describe Mom.
I am stressed, frustrated beyond human endurance and all that is needed is tranquility and for us all to get along? Meanwhile I continue taking care of Mom, my own family, working full-time 30 miles away and driving to Mom’s house to check on her at least 4 times per week. I straighten up her home, I wash her clothes, I clean her bathroom—because I love her and it needed to be done.
Then, I had a great idea. I offered those who verbosely expressed that I needed to “leave Mom alone and get off her back” full care of Mom. I told them we could drive to the elder attorney’s office and I would gladly switch my DPOA over to them! Great idea, I thought. Then, we will see if they still think Mom is FINE. I can guarantee you, they wouldn’t have. But to my disappointment, none accepted my offer! But why not I asked? You are more than happy to take over Mom’s care….full time care. Judging by biting comments, I assumed they could and would be more competent than I was.
I even had one friend of my parents whose children I grew up – suggest (and she was serious) that I move IN with MOM on a full time basis. Simply she said, quit your job, pack up and move in with your Mother. She needs you. This way I could take care of Mom’s hygiene, nutrition, errands, housework, appointments, and yard. OK I said….one minor problem. Are you going to pay my SALARY after I quit my job to move in with MOM? This in turn helps make our mortgage payment. Well….if you guessed her answer was no, you would be correct.
I asked her if she had lost her mind. The sad thing is, she was serious. She had done this with her Mother – but one huge difference, she had never worked outside the home. We never spoke after that conversation.
Being scrutinized as caregiver was one of the hardest issues I had to deal with. I received complaints and comments – but when I offered – no one else wanted to take over the responsibility.
You know what? I will go to my grave knowing I did the best job humanly possible taking care of my Mother. Loving her, protecting her, standing up for her rights, and treating her with the dignity and respect that she deserved.
I know she is watching me from above, and is very proud of me.