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 ...
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Friday, May 31, 2013

Through My Caregiver Eyes - the Law of Loss

It has been some time since I did a post on my mom under the continuing series of 
Through My Caregiver Eyes.  
New readers can find other posts in this series under the Through My Caregiver Eyes label
 (Section to the right of my blog posts.)  

The short summary:
  Concern for my mom started when she was around age 78.
  She was independent but red flags began to flicker in my awareness.
The path from independence to living in my home, and finally Assisted Living is documented in this series.  
While our journey through mom's aging is peppered with joy-filled moments,
 it is mostly continuing losses for her and increasing sadness for me. 

For those of you who are caregivers of elderly loved ones, 
you will see yourself in this story.
We are all sisters and brothers under the skin. 

There should be a law...

I propose that as we age our age-related losses be limited to a fixed number ... let say 5 or 10 ... and no more.  More losses than that from a life spent building and growing is a cruel and unusual punishment for the aging person and the caregiver.

My case in point:

The sky is blue, the wind is calm:
Forgetting names
Thoughts that frequently escape in mid-sentence
Ornery left arthritic knee is more ornery

The horizon gets cloudy:
The checkbook won't balance
Decision making becomes a major hurdle
Learning how to do new things like email is never achieved.

Clouds obscure the sun, the wind is picking up:
Social circle shrinks because friends either move away or die
Outside activities become limited
Family begins to worry about your driving
Living independently becomes a question in the minds of loved ones
You begin to prune down your belongings for a future move.

The prediction is for stormy weather:
You move in with family -  independence is lost forever.
You require oversight for paying your bills.
You take a fall but no major damage is done.
Reaching out to distance friends and family is less frequent.
Your car is finally not your car any more - that freedom is lost forever.
Health problems cause hospitalizations and rehabilitations - trouble free health is lost forever.
You become a familiar face at the local hospital.
Emergency Medical Technicians become more frequent guests.
You walk with a cane.  Walking without assistance is lost forever.

Thunder and lightening begins to fill the sky:
You fall again.  This time you injure yourself.
You move into Assisted Living - seeing family becomes less frequent.
Your daughters take over complete control of your medical and financial affairs.
Making new friends is harder and harder.
Hobbies and past times like TV and reading no longer hold your interest.
You walk with a walker. You are labeled a "fall risk."

The storm is here and intensity is growing:
The recliner now is your best friend - even more than your TV.
Sleeping is your main activity - even staying awake for company is very hard.
Medical issues become the major focus of your family.
Walking even short distances is tough.
The wheel chair is the safest way to travel.

This much loss should be illegal.  

Last Sunday as mom and I were leaving Mass, she said she wasn't sure she could make it to the car.  The walk was painfully slow, with many stops to rest.  I suggested next time we take the wheel chair - she weakly nodded.  We made it to the car.  She then told me she didn't think she could go to church on Sunday any more.  

I am not a church-going Christian, but for 15 years I have taken her to church every Sunday because going to Mass was so important to her.  Her words made me want to cry.  As I write these words my eyes fill with tears.

Another loss. 

      Retired Knitter
      Daughter and Caregiver


  1. My prayers go out to you. I have been a follower but only visiting occasionally as I am loosing many of my activities as you described above. Your mom is several years older than I am but at 75 the loss of things are, as you said very insidious. My Mom had Alzheimer's and it was so hard to see her loose her abilities and finally her entire self. I do not have Alzheimer's but sometimes I think my Mom was blessed as she did not even know what she had lost. It is a gift from God to be able to prepare for the ultimate but I know you are so grieved just wanted to say you are in my prayers. This is an amazing post. Like a journal

  2. I'm not there, but saw my dad and uncle go through this with my grandparents in the last decade. I wanted to be closer to help with my grandparents; my nearby uncle and aunt acted too often like they couldn't be bothered. Case in point: they rarely took my grandparents to church, although it would have meant so much to them. I wish I could be there to give you a hug. Caregiving – like parenting - is not for the faint of heart!

  3. A little bit of my heart breaks along with yours. You've done so much for your mother. Traveling the journey so closely to her makes it that much more difficult for you. But you can take pride in making her journey easier just being there for her.

  4. That is so sad that she has to give something up that has meant so much to her. It wouldn't be quite the same but maybe you could watch one of the church broadcasts on tv with her.

  5. You describe your feelings and the losses so beautifully, so honestly, so painfully. I do wish that there were a limit on age related losses. I am sure that being a caregiver is so much more challenging than being a parent. My own mother died at age 78 of a terrible, rapidly advancing illness. It was awful, and I miss her dearly, but it did happen quickly. (I cannot really say that I am glad about that. A loss is a loss is a loss.) My thoughts and prayers are with you.

  6. Ironic, but your description of the sadness of aging is so beautifully you, I helped my mother as she became more fragile, including having her live with me. From my experience, I can tell you that the loving acts of care and kindness you perform today will become your greatest source of comfort when your dear mother is gone. I only wish I had asked my own for more details on significant events in her life. There are things now that come up and I will never know the answers....well, until we meet again in heaven!
    I wish you strength in the noble act of unselfishness you are living!

  7. As you well know, we went through the same thing, and know how hard this road is. Doing the right thing is hard, but you will feel good about it always. I wish you peace (but know how hard it is to obtain) as you accompany your mother on her journey.

  8. Brings back memories of my mom . . so very sad . . . watching vitality turn to helplessness . . . I say,
    Not Fair . . .

  9. Thank you all for your comments. I started this blog several years a go as a way to cope with my changing life with mom - I just needed a place to express to the world these frustrations. It helps to write it out more than to talk about it and it helps to know that I am walking the same path as many before.

  10. Ohhhhh- you just ripped my heart out-- again. I totally understand every word you write/ I've lived everyone of this moments. When my Mom was dying of cancer- she begged to go back to Florida to their winter home there-- just 1 more time. So of course I took her. Every time we stopped at a rest area-- I did not think I could get her to and from the car. Finality is a horrible gut wrenching realization. Bless your heart for the loving care you provide for your Mom and for carrying these heart breaking situations in your soul-- it's hard. So hard----


  11. I can honestly say that I KNOW exactly how you feel. This is just what I am going through with myh husand!

  12. You do have a talent for writing!! What a beautiful job of describing this process of aging.
    But it does make me so sad and hope I die before it all happens to me.

  13. You've hit it with your amazing words and phases. There's no such thing as growing old gracefully. I don't know one elderly person that is pleased with the restrictions that their health and abilities have left them. They're angry, they want their lives back. My only hope is the precautions I'm taking now to get healthier will have an impact later in life or that I don't live though that period of my life. Either way, I don't think any of us are kidding ourselves about aging gracefully. BTW, I like you're back to writing more often, you write beautifully.

  14. Oh my gosh, this is painful to read. Only b/c I am here too. We're in that last stormy phase w/ my folks. They, too, have just realized getting to Mass might be more trouble than it's worth. You are so right that the losses just keep adding up. I keep thinking things won't get worse before my folks pass...but they do. It's such a long journey. You write to poignantly about it.


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