Taking care

My 92-year-old mother has been in the hospital for the last four days.   As of today, it’s hard to tell whether she will leave the hospital in slightly improved health or will be ready for hospice care in the adult family home where she has lived for six years.  I can’t write about my mom, it’s too hard now, but I can write about caregivers. First, the caregivers in the hospital where she’s spent this week.  From nurses to medical technicians to a doctor who squeezed my hand every time she saw me, she has been attended by caring people.  About 6 pm yesterday I realized that I had seen the same nurse early in the morning.  “You’re working late,” I said.  “No.  I work 12 hours shifts. I like long shifts, because they let me get to know the patients better, understand a little more about who they are and what they need.” What to me used to feel like long, tiring days she saw as a way to get better at her job.  When they weren’t attending to my mother, the staff and volunteers were focusing on me.  “What can I do for you?” “Can I bring you coffee?”  Even, “Would you like a hug?”

The caregivers to whom I owe the most are Gabriela and Cris of Lake Heights Aging, the couple who has seen to her every need for the past six years.  They have bathed her, fed her, smiled and laughed with her, teased her, helped her walk, dressed her, not only in the morning but when she saw fit to strip in the living room in the middle of the day. They took her back after she spent 10 days in a gerontology/psych ward for having a series of psychotic attacks in their home.   I could enjoy her company for a short time and then leave her to them.  They had her all the time, not just when she was happy, but when she was obstinate, cranky or depressed. Most importantly, they have loved her.  If she could thank them I know she would.  I cannot thank them enough for all they have done for both of us.

About stillalife

I retired June 30, 2010 after working for 40 years in the field of education and most recently doing school public relations/community outreach in a mid-size urban school district. I wrote for superintendents and school board members. Now I'm writing for me and I hope for you. In this blog, I offer my own views coupled with the latest research on how to preserve our physical and mental health as we age, delve into issues most of us over 50 can relate to like noticing wrinkles and forgetting where we left our keys, discuss the pros and cons of different ways to engage our minds and bodies after we leave the workplace, and throw in an occasional book review, all peppered with a touch of humor, irony, and just plain silliness. Also, I'm on the third draft of my second novel since retirement.
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4 Responses to Taking care

  1. My sister and I felt the same way about the people caring for my mom. They were incredibly caring people. As we got to know them, we realized (they did not push this information) that they were all struggling financially, with run-down cars, dis-connected phone service, fast-food stops, and second and even third jobs. After my mom died, my sister and provided every care-giver with a small gratuity. The manager told us that we were the first ones to ever offer a gift. We were shocked. Without the care given to my mom and — yes — the support for my sister, those last two months would have been unbearable.

  2. Becky Hashimoto says:

    Melinda just told me about your mother, and I’m so very sorry. I say this with the little knowledge that I have of the
    disease, but I hope her suffering will not be prolonged. If there is anything that I can do for you (come sit with
    you, pick you up for lunch/dinner, make food, bring you stuff, etc.), please let me know. We’re all in the same
    place with parents going through similar things, and I hope you take advantage of us. Your listening to my
    complaints and issues with my parents has been so helpful to me. You are such a great friend and a real
    inspiration of a life well spent. Please contact me at any time day or night. 425.985.2795
    Hugs and love,

  3. Lydia Lauver says:

    Ann, we are so sorry to hear about your Mom and will be thinking of you during this difficult time. Her caregivers seem like amazing human beings and it must be comforting to know she is in such great care, still, this must not be easy for you. Please let us know if we can help in any way. Lydia

  4. Pingback: “Corpse flower” allures more than insects | Still Life

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