Saturday, January 11, 2014

The Problems of Extreme Old Age

I call my mom (92) on the phone every Sunday night.  I have done that for a long, long time.  I used to look forward to calling her and sharing what was going on in my life and hearing abut what was going on in hers.  After a long rocky childhood, my mom and I had become friends over the years.  Calling Mom was an anchor in my life.

A few years ago Mom moved out of her house and into a senior apartment.  She didn't need "care," but she did feel the need to have less to take care of.  These apartments provide activities each day and have some services like a small grocery closet and rides to the store once a week.  The place is a meals on wheels site, but otherwise no meals are provided.  When Mom moved in she still volunteered at a school, drove out to the country to her old church, and did her own shopping, cleaning, and the like.

Over the years Mom has given up the volunteering.  She moved her membership to the church across the street.  She does the daily activities and has tried meals on wheels which she hates.  She still drives, but mainly only to the grocery store at less busy times.  I am feeling the end of the driving coming.  It hasn't been such a problem to have Mom on her own because my brother lives up there in her town and is available to run to the store or handle emergencies.

Later this year my brother plans to follow his family up to the Chicago area.  Mom may give up driving.  If my brother leaves, there will be no close relatives in the town where she lives, more than 2 hours away from me or my sister.  Mom wants to stay where she is with her own doctor and familiar surroundings.

The friendship I had formed with my mom is changing.  I am becoming her caretaker or as she says her "mom."   Mom has become my problem, my puzzle to figure out.  As long as she drives or at least can plan and manage her own life, it seems that leaving her where she is works.  But, while Mom doesn't have Alzheimer's yet, she is becoming senile and frail.  She expresses to me that she wants a knee replacement and carpal tunnel surgery and to see a psychiatrist who could help her overcome forgetfulness.  She has expressed to the doctor (I go with her to appointments) that I am preventing her from having needed surgery.  The doctor encouraged her to look into carpal tunnel surgery.  It is clear to me that Mom is becoming childish, even though she seems sensible during our brief time with the doctor.

Mom's life is getting smaller, turning inward.  It may be that the end is drawing near, but it may also be that Mom will live to be 101 like her great grandmother did or beyond.  She may outlive me or all of her children, only God knows the plans He has made for her. I have read articles and talked to other people in similar circumstances and it seems that I am doing all that I can.  There is no use worrying because that won't change anything.  But, sometimes I ponder these things and pray about them. 

1 comment:

Judy said...

I remember those feelings so well. My mother always did great at her doctor's appointments also. It was such a mystery to me how she did that.