There were nine people in my kitchen this morning at 8:30 am. After a night of little sleep (Lauren’s been having problems sleeping lately), that was way more than my brain could handle. Besides George and I, there were my parents, my visiting stepdaughter and her husband, Lauren, caregiver N, and a home health aide there to help with my mother. Chaos.
There has been a bit of progress regarding my mother’s care. I am completing the paperwork for my mother to enter a skilled nursing facility. At this age, the questions preceding care seem to be more about financial matters than medical and social needs. Prying the details of their financial circumstances from my very private father has not been easy. I think that I have all of the information that I need now. I still struggle, though, to come to terms with my long battle to keep Lauren out of an institutional setting and my advocacy of the last few weeks to get my mother into an institutional setting.
A few days ago, the unenviable job of telling my mother that she would be going into this facility fell to me. I was advised to lie. Since I didn’t have any better idea as to how to kindly tell my mother that she had come to this stage of her life – I followed the advice I had been given. I told her that the doctor wanted her to get some rehab, and that we had found this very nice place to make that happen. She took the news rather well, better than I expected. She was more worried about how my father was going to react or handle being alone after sixty-five years of marriage. She later said to my father that she would probably go in and never come out again. So, even though she often seems confused and disoriented, she, somehow, is very aware of her fate.
This move to a health care facility is the only option we have at this point. It is a very hard decision to make but in the long run, I think that I will have a better relationship with my mother if others are providing her primary care. I know I do not have the energy or patience left after so much of my life being devoted to Lauren’s care, to provide her with the care she currently needs. If her care is being well provided by others, I can focus on spending time with her as simply my mom. The facility we have selected is beautiful and modern, serving seniors of all levels of need. There are many activities and opportunities for stimulation and fun. I wonder though, with her seemingly weekly decline, if she will be able to enjoy any of the opportunities this facility offers. She has been isolated for much of the last year in her own home and now in mine. I have hopes that the easily accessible and varied activities now available to her will make the days or years she has left pleasant ones.
I’ve allowed myself to daydream a bit about the day, in the now not too distant future, when Mom is in a stable, caring new home, Dad is once again ensconced in their summer place, and Lauren has moved into her own home. Little shivers of anticipation make my heart beat a little faster. The idea of the freedom soon to come lurks around the corners of my brain like an ephemeral ghost going in and out of focus. I can’t quite grasp the reality of it. I think I’m afraid to let myself.