A Very Personal Understanding of Aging

My todo list is overflowing, my emails are piling up, I have 17 pages to read in my book and all of these are things I enjoy doing. But my mother has just called me for the fifth time in less than 60 minutes about the new safety monitor we got her for Christmas, the 5Star Urgent Response. New things challenge her and the idea of having both a cell phone and this device is beyond her ability to assimilate. As I sit at the kitchen bar trying to concentrate on any number of items the phone rings two more times. It’s not that I don’t want to work more but my spirit is broken by the phone calls. I give up and walk toward the stairs to the bedroom. My mother must have picked up on my frustration because when the phone rings again, it is not mine. My husband picks up his phone which is playing “Mother-in-Law” (see below).  

Over the years, as my patients have aged along with me, they have told me their woeful stories regarding their parents. I knew my time would come and over the last year my 84 year old mother has diminished with each month. She refuses to take any “more” medication and, like many of the dementia patients I’ve treated, doesn’t see the problem. Since the evidence on the “Alzheimer’s medications” is not all that convincing anyway[1], I am not willing to fight over it. She limits her driving mainly to daytime and to places she knows. But if you throw anything out of the ordinary, like the new device that she needs to clip on her person and charge every night, it becomes a nightmare. Not only for her but for me and my husband as well. 

My daughter has already approached her about moving into a personal care home but she will have none of it. She has good days and bad days. My job keeps me busy and disinclined to force the conversation. It is coming. My patients have prepared me for it and I thank them for this. But just like them, there is a black hole of dread that I see approaching. One thing for sure, while I will avoid discussing what is a personal matter, my empathy will go out to the next adult child dealing with their unwilling parent. 

1. http://consumerhealthchoices.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/BBD-Alzheimers-Full.pdf

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