Preparing to Let Go – Caring for Mom: Day 0 – One Alzheimer’s Caregiver’s Experience
Tomorrow I will take over caring for my 82-year old mother who is challenged by stiff, achy joints, severely limited vision and an unreliable memory.
She’s not always sure where she is, what year it is, or that the conversations on the TV aren’t actually happening in reality.
This is my place to process the experience.
Welcome to my world as a caregiver.
My family and I have decided that now is the time for me to take over caring for my mother. With extremely limited vision and mobility, coupled with a failing memory, mom now requires near full-time care. While my sister has been handling mom’s care for the last 4 years, she is overwhelmed. And it is abundantly clear that several material possessions have piled up that must be shed.
For one, in the last 10 years mom has downsized homes having moved from Georgia to Maryland to Nevada. And as she moved she put some furniture, boxes of clothes and random personal items into storage lockers – in each state she lived in!
Mom has always been a big dreamer and elaborate planner. Over her illustrious lifetime, she has accomplished almost all of her lofty dreams. In the last decade, she imagined that she would, once again, move into a house and fill it with her favorite things. But as she has slowed down and become more dependent on the support of others, it is not realistic to think that all of the stuff accumulated over the years will be of future use.
It is time to face reality. Mom is not going to wear those clothes again. She is not ever going to need a full house of furniture either. So, for practical and financial reasons, it is time to let the material stuff go!
Mom’s needs have become simple and meager. And so I’ve gone through boxes and made the decision my sister could not, to donate and give away nearly all of mom’s furniture and old clothes. I can remember how she looked in her various sun dresses…and I can smell her perfume on some of her clothes and it makes me nostalgic for times past.
Life is Precious
I’m struck by how precious our lives are. We often take our youth for granted, thinking we’ll always have tomorrow. But all things come to an end. And we never know when our time will come. Seeing mom at this point of her life, with no future exuberant days of dancing til dawn to look forward to, it makes me even more aware of how our actions impact us.
Just this morning, she told me this morning that she’s frustrated that she can’t do what she wants to do when she wants. She even says she is ready to leave this world.
Man, that’s hard to hear! Though it’s tough to admit that we must prepare to let go of mom, I am at least happy to know that she has no regrets about how she lived.
Mom has outlived every one of her siblings and her parents, too! She lived a full, rich life and while she has to let go of her desires for more romance and dancing, she can be proud to have made choices that allow her to let go of life with no regrets.
I’m happy that her only grandchild, my 9-year old daughter, has the chance to hear – several times per day! – stories from my mom’s youth and adult life. Her life adventures highlight how all of us – including girls! – can do whatever we want in life.
So the next step is to get mom’s passport renewed so that she can stay with us in France. She always loved France – especially the attention she received from the handsome Frenchmen (her words, not mine!) So hopefully as she lets go of her independence, she will gain new experiences, even if she only remembers them for an hour.
As my daughter and I are preparing for a total life adjustment I try to help her focus on providing a loving, compassionate environment for mom, rather than focusing on how she must let go of some of my attention or her freedom.
My prayer is that we are able to stay upbeat and positive and manage the stress that drains caregivers so quickly.
Now is when meditation and qigong and prayer will be used to the max!
In my heart and soul I am committed to making my mother’s last months or years the best possible. And I am committed to being gentle and kind to myself, which meditation and self-forgiveness has made so much easier.
May we all live with ageless vitality, meaning and purpose.
~ Dr. Andrea
If you are a caregiver and want free stress-relieving meditations and mindfulness resources, please check out my Stress Less Chill Kit at www.AndreaPennington.com/StressLess