Sunday, June 7, 2009

Aging Parents

We admitted my mother to a nursing home last week.  

It is hard for me to imagine my fierce and powerful mother as an old lady who submits to being diapered and bathed and having her meat cut up by others. Right now, we don't know if this is a permanent arrangement or if she will -- with physical and occupational therapy -- be able to go home at some point. Personally, I rather hope she decides not to even try to go home. I want her to be someplace where she is safe.

During my entire life, my mother had two desires:  she wanted to spend every possible moment of her life with my father (to the exclusion of all other desires) and she did not want to be a burden on her children.  

After more than 60 years of marriage, my father died a few years ago.  I frankly did not expect Mom to live long after that.  Neither did she, which is why she planned and paid for her funeral when they were arranging his.  

Turns out she's tougher than any of us gave her credit for, and she actually had a few good years, maintaining her independence, doing some things that Dad never would have wanted to do and muddling through her days in a world without the man who was the center of her universe.  

After Dad died we gently suggested that she divide her time between my sister's home and mine.  We each offered to build out mother-in-law apartments in our houses.  Mom wasn't ready to do that.  She didn't want to "burden" us, and she wanted to be independent.  It would have been no burden, but as a stubbornly independent-minded people (who got that from our parents) we respected her desire to live in her own home as long as possible.

Recently, Mom began to have more and more physical and mental "issues".   She fell several times -- three times that she has admitted to (I think there have been several falls she hasn't told us about).   This last time she ended up in the hospital with a whole array of mysterious and scary symptoms.   

It was abundantly clear that this time, she wasn't going home by herself. We found in a very nice place that is clean, and where they apparently do a good job of doing physical therapy to help their residents operate at the highest level they can, as well as keeping them busy and entertained.  We could not ask for more.....  

... other than for her to be young and strong, fierce and stubbornly proud again.... but, well, I'm not going to go there because I've cried enough for one week.

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