I haven’t had a cold in more than twenty years

tissueboxI started to notice a change in my mom ten years ago. So did my dad. At one point, he volunteered to get memory benchmarking just so my mom would go. She’s a smart one and would agree, then wiggle out of it later…finally, I just gave up. I can’t make her go.

I could not understand why she wouldn’t want to get this simple test done. Her mother had dementia the last few years of her life. When we watched as my father’s mom lived with dementia and the enormous burden it was on my grandfather and aunt, my mom would say “We have prepared our lives so you won’t have to take care of us when we are old.”

Three years ago she had a stroke. To this day, she still doesn’t believe it and will tell you she doesn’t know why her kids keep saying she did have a stroke. When I walk her through the two ER visits and the six months of follow-up appointments with the neurologist, she just stares at me, smiles (sometimes) and says she disagrees. She’s very proud to tell you she’s never even had a cold in the past twenty years. The reality is that she just never remembers having a cold much less a stroke.

We want to help my parents live a long and fruitful life. I can’t imagine anyone else watching out for them or knowing what they want better than their own children. We don’t mind helping, we’d be honored. What we do mind is having to fight our way in to help our parents. Determined.

We always pass our physicals

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAEvery year my parents get an annual physical—I’m thankful they do that.  However, all my parents remember is that they “passed” their physicals. I finally realized they don’t look at these as I do. Instead, my parents view these as appointments to confirm they don’t have any life-threatening illness—“You won’t die this year.”

The differing view of medical care and the doctor’s role is a huge generational gap between me (a baby boomer) and my parents. When I don’t feel good or sense a medical issue is getting worse, I go see a doctor. I will tell the doctor exactly what is happening and hope they have a suggestion on how to address it. If that doctor doesn’t explain or help me resolve the issue, I will go find another doctor if the problem continues.

My parents, on the other hand, assume that a doctor will call them and follow-up if they have something that needs to be addressed. When I’ve gone to the doctor with both parents in different situations, when asked, they will say they are not having issues with their memory. Do they not know or do they believe admitting memory issues will only result in the loss of their current lifestyle?

Since we can’t address their memories, we have worked to put support in place to help them keep their current lifestyle. However, it would be much easier if we had a clear and shared understanding of both my parents’ health. Limited.