Unless you’re in lock down with a ninety-five year old who has dementia. For the past ten days, my mom has been asking me at least ten times a day if I was fired and if that’s why I’m not going to work anymore. Each time I explain I’m working from home for a while, and that’s why I’m on the computer all day. But of course, she doesn’t understand what I’m telling her.
Mom talks constantly, sometimes even in her sleep. She talks to the TV, to her parakeet, to anyone who’s in the house or to no one. It’s nearly impossible to watch a movie or sporting event with her, because she won’t stop talking, complaining, or asking questions. As I’m trying to work remotely for my day job, and do video conferencing with co-workers, I have a constant background noise of her chattering and demanding me to answer all her questions as to why I’m home or whatever else happens to be on her mind at the time.
When we stay on a very strict schedule, she seems to do much better. Our normal routine during the week includes us both getting up early. I get ready for work and she gets ready for her day. By the time I leave for work she’s in her comfortable chair watching TV in the living room. My daughter stops by an hour later to fix her breakfast. I’m home at one in the afternoon to fix her lunch and when I get off work, I go straight home to be with her. Several times during the day my two sons and daughter-in-law check in on her, and I have a video camera set up in our house so that I can watch her at all times from work. So far, this arrangement has worked good, but we know that sometime in the near future, mom will need someone with her around the clock. Without the help of my wonderful family, I could not do this alone.
When I’m not home, and watching her on the camera, she is happily cruising around the house with her walker, chattering away, and taking care of herself. When I’m home, she’s helpless. She says she needs help to get out of her chair, can’t get anything for herself, and sometimes, even acts like she can’t walk. I get frustrated. I get angry. I hate it when I get so annoyed with her. Then, I feel guilty. I wish I could be more patient. I try…
Weekends are much the same as the past two weeks have been with her asking me all day Saturday and Sunday if I got fired or when I have to go back to work. And, because I’m home, pretending to be completely helpless. But, having me home every day for this long has completely thrown our regular schedule out the window, and she has not adapted to it, yet. I figure about the time she starts getting used to me being home everyday, I will be going back to work again, and she’s be thrown into a tailspin again. Yesterday, when I had to go into my office for a few hours, she had a total meltdown and told me I couldn’t leave her alone. Then she added that she didn’t think I had a job anymore. So sad to be so confused.
Being home bound with mom is probably equivalent to parents with small children who are working at home during these difficult times. I sympathize with them. And, I sympathize with mom. I can’t even begin to imagine what it’s like to be in a near-constant state of confusion like she is lately. She thinks everyone is talking about her, hiding or stealing things from her. She is constantly praying to be with dad and my little brother in Heaven.
Regardless of how hard I think I have it, I know it doesn’t even begin to compare to what mom is going through. So, I’ll just keep letting her think I was fired, because all that really matters is that she is safe and healthy.
The Promise, Part 2
Being a caregiver has been the most difficult thing I’ve ever done. When it’s over, I have no doubts I will look back and know it was also the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done. But, the day to day reality of caring for a ninety-five year old senior is overwhelming at times…most times. For a while, I’m going to write about those intense feelings in this blog.
Even though I started this blog to promote my book writing, I feel that writing about this difficult period in my life will be therapeutic for me in all aspects of my life. I’m not going to sugar-coat the struggles mom and I have on a regular basis. But, I am NOT looking for sympathy here, even though I’m sure there will be some poor-pitiful-me posts in this series. However, if you’ve ever been a caretaker for someone, whether old or disabled, and you have advice for me, that is always greatly appreciated. Thank you for sharing this challenging journey with me.