Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Taking care of parents

My dad had surgery on Tuesday. Not a big deal except he is the caregiver of my mom who has dementia. He has to do almost everything because she has no short term memory or any memory of most things for the last 50+ years. When he told me he was having surgery he was going to let my mom sit in the waiting room while he was in surgery and then have her drive them home. He thought they could make it if he was sitting right next to her in the car. I didn't share his optimism in this plan so I went down to take them in, sit with her for the day and bring them back home.

Since my dad has to do all the cooking, Monday night I made them a salad, hot dish and some soup. Sounds easy but between everything else goes on around here on a normal day it took me most of the night.

Tuesday morning I was up at 4:30 a.m. and out the door by 4:40 so I could make it to their house in time to get them to the hospital by 7:00 without them having to worry that they would be late. It all went really well and I was so glad I was there to be with my mom.

From where we were sitting in a waiting room she could see the gift shop so she thought we were at a mall and she kept wanting to go out and see what other stores were there. When she asked where Dad was, I would tell her in surgery which made her think she should go see him. When I told her I didn't know where the operating rooms were she wanted to find them. It was a very hard morning for her and so I was very glad that I was there to keep her from wandering the hospital or worse, leaving the building. I also realize that she can't watch t.v., except quiz shows where they ask short questions, because she can't follow a story line or even a news report. She can't read a magazine because she can only remember the sentence she is reading.

It was nice to spend the day with her and I enjoyed it. Even though she was agitated, she can carry on a conversation if you don't mind repeating it every minute or two. She does have some long term memory, if she is asked things about her childhood she can talk for longer. We went out to breakfast, took a walk, did a little window shopping at a mall, when out to lunch, and had a snack in the cafeteria. It had been many many years since just her and I spent a day together, probably when I was in my early twenties. Of course, when I was young I worked full time then I had Dancer and worked full time which meant even less time to see Mom by myself. She did come to our house a couple times after Dancer was born and helped me with cleaning etc. but it's not the same when a baby needs to be taken care of. It has been about 12 years that she has had dementia and with the kids, I haven't spent any time with just her. She did stay with us for a few days one time when my Dad was in the hospital, but Spark was a baby, and of course, we were running back and forth to the hospital.

I had them back home a little after 7:00 p.m. and after I sat in a comfy chair, and relaxed a bit now that Mom was settled down, I left to pick up the kids. They were invited to stay at a friend's house when they heard that the kids would be home alone all day. They generously took Dancer to a choir concert and wouldn't be back to their house until 9:00. After chatting there for a while, we finished the drive home and pulled in about 10:00 p.m. Despite it being a long and stressful day, I am glad that I still have parents that need a helping hand.


Just an Average American Mom said...

Life is funny...Parents spend all that time taking care of their children and eventually the children come back around to care for their parents.

jugglingpaynes said...

You are a wonderful daughter for helping out your parents. My great grandmother had Alzheimer's when I was a teen. I watched my grandma's health deteriorate as she took care of her mother. My mother and aunt would take turns helping out with my ailing great grandmother. It was always difficult when she was out of her apartment staying with us. She never remembered where she was.

I send hugs and prayers for strength. May your dad heal quickly!

Peace and Laughter,