Years ago, I didn’t see myself as being a senior or old as it is described. Most of my generation see ourselves as unique, able to continue to live as if we are still in our 40-50’s but lately, more and more of us are facing health issues. In the last year, it has come home to roost with our daughter having to put her life on hold and come home to be the only caregiver for her Dad. This has shown a light that most of us never considered that it may be our turn to require care. I thought I would write on this sensitive subject from an outsider/insider view.
Missy’s father and I divorced when she was a teenager. We made sure she knew it was not her fault for the separation. We worked together, even though apart as parents. I recommend this thinking to all couples who find it necessary to part as we have maintained civility and Missy was never forced to choose or even asked to love one more than the other.
Her Dad showed signs of forgetfulness or repetitive stories at first. Missy noticed his confusion or the action of moving things back and forth. It progressed to a sense of questions being raised, “Was he okay?” Without going into details, it became more obvious he was in need of caregiving. It was not even a decision, even with a thriving career, our daughter came home on the shortest notice and began the biggest challenge in her life.
Every day, she faces a continual reminder that her Dad has less and less recognition or understanding of what is going on. He is a pacer, clapper, and vocal but even in the midst of all of the “noise he makes” I will be on the phone or get a text sometimes with pictures of their “good times”. It takes Missy to get a rare laugh or smile from him but she does and when it happens, she giggles. It is easy to see that is the small reward for a job which is incredibly hard on the emotions, physical stamina, personal care, and what possibly can be deprivations of sleep, rest, social interaction, and so many other sacrifices on the caregiver.
This morning, I saw a repost from my daughter with the caption above the photo and it inspired me to discuss the realization even when we feel invincible and it is hard to envision how a change in our health can change our world. Missy and I have discussed this mystery, “I would have never thought her Daddy would have dementia. He was a mechanical genius, could figure out how to make something work, was never overweight, worked every day whether it was steaming hot, icy cold, or pouring rain. He was not seemingly a risk for mental loss.”
Wise words from this young woman!
“Twice this week, I have watched an elderly individual, fade into the busy life in which we all live. One man just needed Panadol for his wife but the shop assistant simply said it’s in aisle ‘6’. But he struggled to navigate the supermarket and as I watched him go in the wrong direction, I left all my groceries and took him where he needed to go.”
“Today, I watched an elderly man struggle in the heat, who had obviously had a fall with a huge scrape and blood on his leg. He walked past people in the cafe, while he slowly made his way to his car. Not one person stopped. Or looked. Or acknowledged him. I took him to his car and checked he was ok. He told me he had a fall and wasn’t sure how the air con worked in his car so he just didn’t use it. I sat with him, until his air con kicked in and heard him talk about the old frail body that he is in, that fails him now, every single day.”
“When you see an elderly person walking down the street, searching in the supermarket or struggling to their car, take a minute out of your busy schedule and ask them if they need a hand. Think about your grand parents and your parents and how pissed you would be if someone didn’t stop to help them. But more, think of them as you.”
“Once upon a time they were you. They were busy, they had work, they had children, they were able. Today, they are just in an older body that is not going as fast as it used to and this busy life is confusing. They deserve our utmost respect and consideration. One day it will be you, it will be us. I wish more people gave a XXXX about them and acknowledged them for their admirable existence and jeez I hope someday, not that far away, someone does it for me.”
Thanks to the author, Adele Renee. 🙂
The struggle is real, the sacrifices are many, and it may be your turn so when you can reach out to the caregivers and lend a hand, it may be good experience to be there for those people who find themselves in a totally demanding world but they are there for those who have always been there for them……Until We Read Again…….Arline Miller, author/blogger but most importantly Missy’s Mom.