My sister came to visit to help chase down my Mom’s medical issues giving me a break and allowing me to focus on my daughter’s foot surgery. The true sandwich generation dilemma — both Mom and daughter need medical attention and care right now.
My daughter is only 11, but had chronic foot pain due to an extra (accessory) bone that outlasted all the non-surgical options we pursued. She stopped dancing and gutted out soccer as the goalie to help her team who lost two players due to broken bones. Surgery was a few days ago. Thankfully, it went well and I just finished spending the last two days as foot-maid (pun fully intended).
My sister just returned home yesterday and my Mom just called telling me her “cupboard is bare.” Not only does logic tell me she still has plenty of crackers and chips, she is in a community that serves every meal and that also has a “store” where she can pick up bread and peanut butter and jelly if she really is out of supplies.
However, I immediately feel guilty and assume my Mom is reporting facts. I can’t stop the urge to believe my Mom. I’m not sure if I ever want to lose that ability because it will mean I know my Mom is lost to me for good. Reflected.
I made plans with my Dad to play racquetball and go over the family tree this morning. When my Dad showed up almost a half our late, I was relieved. It wasn’t the first time he showed up late, went missing or lost his way while driving. The look on my Dad’s face was a heartbreaker. I smiled, gave him a kiss and got us back out the door and on the way to the gym.
My Dad now acknowledges that things aren’t the same and he is having trouble remembering really simple things. It’s been a long road to today and we have many more miles to go – but it’s a victory – albeit bittersweet. I’ve noticed many changes in my parents over the past ten years. With two of them, they presented a fierce and united front and have covered for each other and generally resisted any suggestion that their health and mental abilities were changing. I’d suggest considering mental bench-marking or a follow-up visit to a neurologist, and one would agree, and then the other would unravel any plans. This happened time and time again. So I just quit trying.
When my siblings started to experience their odd behaviors, they had to coax me back into trying. I had given up since it was the only way for me to really deal with my parents on a daily and weekly basis. My siblings stepped up to the plate as well and visit quite regularly to help us manage through this transition we are all going through.
As their cognitive decline seems to have shifted into a higher gear, I’ve learned how to better support them and put as much of a safety net around them as they will allow me (and my siblings) to provide, yet the dominoes are starting to topple.