So what have the past few days brought? All the grandkids started school on Wednesday so we had a pizza party to celebrate at Mom's house that evening. At the same time we offered Tokasa the opportunity to go out for dinner with her friend, which she did. It was a nice evening, (althought I was on the phone with Comcast for over an hour trying to get another phone line downstairs for mom.) Mom's Parkinsons no longer allows her to sip her chardonnay from a lovely glass, but she gets 'er done with a tumbler and a straw!
It was important for me to let Tokasa go out so that Mom could have some space to speak freely her own frustrations during this transition period. We sat together and I was certain I was not going to let my old tapes run in my head about how ungrateful mom could be, and I didn't. I engaged in the conversation with her about how things were going from her perspective, only offering questions in response that allowed me to see deeper into her feelings. Bottom line was, she didn't feel that Tokasa knew how to take care of her physically. I can understand this after she has just spent four months in a facility where caregivers had much more training. What Tokasa does have going for her is a prayerful heart full of love. We are in the process of completing a job description over the weekend to reflect upon how things have settled in and where we go from here. (Thanks, Jane.)
It must be so hard for a caregiver to attend to an elderly person. Folks say it's like having a toddler again but I don't think that's true. Toddlers are new and sweet to the world - stumbling and tumbling about trying to find their way. Their first mornings of Spring. On the other hand, the elderly too, are stumbling and tumbling about, but behind them they are dragging huge valises full of ideas and memories, successes and failures down a winter's path as they go. Theirs is not a path full of flowers and wonder. And more times than not, they let us know loud and clear.
"I'll just sit here and keep my mouth shut and let everyone tell me what to do."
"Can we JUST CHANGE THE SUBJECT? All I hear is people telling me what to do!
"Can we just stop talking about my butt for one minute???"
I have deep compassion for this, and how shitty it must feel. To slowly lose your autonomy to an adult standing in front of you who used to be your child. Someone who once knew so little and in whose eyes you were the trusted final word. And now that person has gray hair of her own and is constantly nagging at you to follow the rules. My heart aches for the elderly.
And it's a catch 22 for adult children of the elderly. In my case with mom, the area of my nagging is about getting her to:
1. Be kind and not rude.
2. Follow the doctors orders to prevent her pressure wounds and edema.
Basically, I'm happy to just stop there. The rest I can deal with. Or, better said, let her keep her atonomy and deal with on her own. But the catch 22 comes in when I am trying, with every ounce of sanity and devotion and respect to her as my mom, to keep her physically well which requires some action on her part. She needs to lie down and take the pressure of of an area that is broken down on her mid back. It was a huge bedsore when she went into the hospital 4 months ago. She is to do this every afternoon for two hours. She absolutely refuses. She lies and argues. Things like, "One of those ladies (the physical therapist, occupational therapist, home health nurse) told me I could sit in my recliner with my feet up instead." Well, that makes no sense because it only provides more pressure on the weak area. But to tell her this is always a fight. Why is it a catch 22? Because to force her is viewed as elder abuse, and for her to show up at the hospital with 6th degree wounds is elder abuse. No matter what happens, the adult child trying to keep her physically healthy is often to blame. What I have found helps me is to work directly with Adult Protective Services. They are really the good guys if you solicit their knowledge and expertise. They have to see how hard we're trying. Nothing is more heartbreaking than to be standing at your mom's bedside upon admittance to the hospital with yet another UTI and having nurses and doctors talk to you with apparent disdain as they look at her back, "How did THIS get like THIS?" ...when you have fought your mom everyday to do as she was ordered by her doctor.
So this morning I called the physical therapist, David, whom she loved from the nursing home and solicited his help. He's no longer part of her care team, but he agreed to stop by on his own time tomorrow morning and check in with her and hopefully be the change she needs! God bless this man. I need to do something really nice for him.
And a little funny aside for all of my friends here in Blogland: many moons ago, when I was young and hot :), and worked at the state hospital, there was an acupressure in-service that we were required to take. Well, David and I were from different departments, but he was my partner, and little does he remember that I once applied pressure to his upper inner thigh. hahahahaha He was handsome and I was cute, and we were both timid and shy. Of course, I will never tell him. ;)