Mark Twain

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do ...
Explore. Dream. Discover." Mark Twain

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Through My Care Giver Eyes - Seeing Me

Welcome to new readers. 
 This post is the latest in a series of posts called Through My Care Giver Eyes,  By selecting that title
 under the Labels Section of this blog, you can find the past story of my care giving journey with mom.  
  If you have walked this path before me with an elderly parent, you may see yourself in my story.
If not and you have a living parent, this may be part of your story someday.
Mom waiting for Mass to start.
Last Sunday I took mom to church.  We go most Sundays.  She has physically improved enough that she can use her walker and avoid the wheel chair.  It is a slow, slow trip from the car into church and back again, but she can do it.  It is a battle we have won over the last 5 months.

In fact, she has adjusted very well to Assisted Living.  In October 2011, she fell at home (my husband and I were gone) and spent four weeks in rehab.  We were hopeful she would recover and return home.  After all, 2011 was filled with multiple hospitalizations, home PT and sub acute rehab, and she rallied each time. But by December 2011 it was evident that she could not come home again.  The story of that year and the 5 previous years are covered in other Through My Care Giver Eyes posts.

But there were two people in this story. Mom and me.  I have changed.  Change is the only constant.

Looking back to just five months ago, my emotions were in terrible turmoil.  A move out of my home was unavoidable.  Each day with her I was positively upbeat about the new setting, compassionate about the changes she must accept, and very present in her life to provide support.  But each evening I was filled with anxiety and disappointment.  Many an evening I stood at my kitchen sink cleaning up the evening dishes ... with tears streaming down my face.  I felt we had lost a major battle.

Today things are better for both of us.

Mom with Activities Staff at Easter
Wacky Tacky Wednesday Social Event
Caregivers dress up.
So did the residents!

There are no more tears for me.  I am not anxious about her care.  She has wonderful care givers and lives in a beautiful supportive environment.  She has social opportunities and quiet times.  And she has been well for 5 months in a row (a significant record after all our struggles in 2011.)  After 5 months, she now thinks of this familiar place as "home."

And I have more flexibility in my personal life.  I visit with her four times a week.  No longer do I worry about her being by herself while I am away from home.  There is no need for a "mom-sitter" when we are gone. There is less concern that she is socially isolated.

There is a certain level of contentment for me in knowing these things.

But ... (and you knew there was a "but") ... I miss her.

Sometimes she drove me crazy when she lived with me.  Sometimes her odd behavior and faulty thinking would frustrate us greatly.  Sometimes our lives and our friends had to take a back seat to my care giver responsibilities for mom.  Sometimes we felt very socially isolated because of her.  I know all that.

But, I still miss her.

Mom's front porch at Brook Grove.
Secondly, I worry about the money.  This wonderful place is pricey.  Fortunately this community is aware of her resources, and there is a plan for residents as they "spend down" their savings.  But every month when I write that hefty check from her account, I feel really bad.  Yes, her money is taking care of her as planned, but she saved this money her whole life time. To her, these assets were a last indication of her financial independence. Although she is not aware of this, her assets are now shrinking at an alarming rate under my signature each month.  She has lost so much over these last years.  This feels like another battle lost for me.

Finally I think there are still unresolved things bubbling just below the surface within me.  I  have down periods for no reason and lack of energy daily.  I have less excitement and joy in things. Is this just cumulative exhaustion from years of giving 150% to this effort?  Is it disappointment and depression caused by my "but" issues? Have I changed in some elemental way from the person I was 5 years ago?  Or is it something else?

On balance, I think mom is doing better than I am.  I am content with that.

I am better than I was. I am content with that as well.

But ...


  1. Oh my, "retired knitter". . . this brought the memories . . .

    I think the feeling of tired, energy gone is a result of missing joy. I think when we have had true, honest, pure joy in our life . . . and it is gone, absent . . . our entire being feels the absence. It is the realization, things will never be the same, okay, good, great . . . BUT . . . not the same.

    The only thing that helps me when I get overwhelmed with Things Are Not The Same Anymore . . . is to grab on to a 'remember' . . . and hold it in my heart for a moment or two . . . sometimes Joy returns . . .

  2. You've had a long uphill battle and it has left its marks upon you. I'm still fighting through the same aftermath as yourself....

  3. For anyone who is working on your sink and also faucet, you mustn't use faucets and also sinks which could very easily break up after obtaining the results on the regular consumption for just a few months or a couple of years.

  4. Oh man, I can relate to this. Slowly, over the past 3 years, I have lost my energy, my joy, my motivation and I don't understand it. Is it really the caretaking thing? Just the emotional toil? I don't know. I do know, when I have free time, I prefer to be alone, just be with my own self, not my husband or kids, just have time to myself. I want to write and read and pray, just be inside my own hear to think for myself and not be helping someone. Thanks, Elaie for these posts on caretaking. I'm reading all of them! And I'm now following you. ;-)


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