Caring for “my” Aging Parent
My mom moved 850 miles to be a mile down the road from me 6 months after daddy passed away. It was doctors orders., not her choice. It was a choice I was happy with. You see, she is an alcoholic and that combined with grief made her a serious hazard to herself.
After daddy passed, I would have to drive or fly out to see her every two months. I spend the week getting things back in order, making freezer meals for her, and putting weight back on her. I tried bringing in caregivers and house cleaners. She just fired them after I left for home.
My husband and I picked up a travel trailer and parked it in our driveway so she could come stay with us. In hopes that she would want to stay. No go. It lasted 3 months.
So after significant weight loss and several falls that resulted in broken bones, her doctor had had enough. He told her either move close to me or he’d recommend her for a nursing facility. Her choice was obvious. My husband and I along with the help of several family members packed almost her entire home up and moved her to Washington, one mile from my house.
Today, 4.5 Years Later
I’m so tired. I am emotionally drained. Caring of an aging parent is exhausting. My mom is especially difficult because of her drinking, smoking, lack of food intake, lack of desire to be different, lack of motivation to do for herself, and her stubbornness. I realize other people have more difficult situations with their parents. I am thankful mine isn’t worse.
I am however, ready for things to change. I have found myself often wondering why she is even still with us. She weighs 71 pounds, she is malnourished, (not from my lack of trying to get her to eat) she has COPD and I’m very surprised her liver still functions.
Don’t get me wrong here. I love my mom so very much. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t endure the overwhelming emotional draining situation we are in. I just wish she would allow me to help her with the things that really matter. Things like nutrition. Stopping smoking and drinking. Getting exercise and building muscle again.
Unfortunately, all she does is sit at her computer, drink, smoke and play solitaire. Now to be fair, this summer she would sit outside and read books that I had bought her last Christmas. She went though four books in just a couple weeks. Then moved on to word searches. Now that the weather has turned cold and wet, she is back inside on her computer for 8 hours a day.
The Added Challenge
Last year, my mom invited my 53 yr old homeless, cousin to moved in with her. That was a huge help to me, most of the time. He too is an alcoholic. Except his is condition is far worse than hers. He drinks from AM to PM. His desire is to be anywhere but in reality. I was grateful for what help he could be to me. Unfortunately, he would get so drunk he would fall. I couldn’t have that around my mom. I was worried he would land on her!
With lots of prayers and petitions to the Lord and the trailer park managers, he was able to get his own place in the park. Praise the Lord! It has made a different that he isn’t with mom 24/7, but he will binge or walk to the bar without telling anyone. So his help is certainly untrustworthy.
That’s okay, my mom is my responsibility, but now I have 2 drunks to care for. He doesn’t drive, he needs assistance with shopping, doctor apps, prescriptions and paying his bills. All the same things I do for my mom. Some days are just too much for me.
The most recent challenge with mom has been incontinence. Since January, I’ve been going to moms almost every morning between 8 and 8:30 am to change her clothes, wipe her down, put dry clothes on her, strip and make the bed, wash and dry the wet bedding.
I know that doesn’t sound like anything terrible. Honestly, I feel guilty for letting it get to me. She’s the one waking up cold and wet. She can’t change her own shirts due to the damage left from breaking her upper arms. She certainly doesn’t want to be wet. But I wonder, if she didn’t drink all her beer and go straight to bed would the mess be less?
I have tried everything. We use depends. We use very large bed pads. We even use, what I thought to be waterproof pillow covers. I feel like I can’t win. I’m washing all her bedding everyday. I’m so tired.
Some of my friends think I should put her in a home. I just can’t do that to her just yet. She makes too much money to qualify for the state to pay for in home caregiving. So she’d have to pay for it. Maybe I should look more into that. I’m just not sure she would makes enough to cover her monthly bills and caregiving.
I quit my job almost 2 years ago now to be more available to her. I don’t regret that decision at all, but sometimes I wish things were different. I’m just tired.
31 but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.
The other day, I came home so frustrated ready to vent. I got on Pinterest to pass the time and came across a pin that said, “I stopped venting and started praying, because I don’t need sympathy, I need strength.” You can view that Pin here. I have to say, that has stuck with me this week. Whenever I feel like venting I think of that pin. It’s true. I really don’t want or need sympathy. I really need strength and options that are real and doable.
I hope this peek into my daily life gives you something to think about when it comes time for you to care for your aging parent. I would NEVER tell you NOT to take them in. I would do this all over the same way in a heart beat. Just know, that you will need strength and patience. Sometimes it’s like caring for a toddler all over again.
Have you cared for an aging parent? If so, does any of this sound familiar? Any advise you’d like to share? I’d love to hear it. Please share in the comment section.