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The Dilemma of the Aging Parent
She opened the front door at 11:00 A.M. and screamed at the top of her lungs, Jeanna, Jeanna, I'm hungry. Where is my breakfast?, I need it now!" Abruptly, Jeanna stopped pulling the weeds from the front garden. The serenity and beauty of the cool morning air had been broken. At least she was able to enjoy the last hour of gardening in the back yard. She was once again proud of the walkway around the pool.
Earlier, her daughter brought her back to her house because she was screaming , crying and out of control verbally and mentally. When Jeanna answered that phone , yesterday afternoon , she wondered , Had she been robbed? Maybe someone tried to pistol whip her? No, her personal assistant did not show up this Friday morning and did not even call. Her world was falling apart because this eighty year old woman thought, she was not going to get her weekly bath.
Upon receiving the phone call, Jeanna dropped everything she was trying to get done and dutifully drove the 20 to 30 minute drive on a major interstate highway to address the current crisis. Was she shocked? Not at all. Was she surprised ? Not really. Was she worn out from the number of times she had to respond to these so called crises lately, absolutely. But from the tone of the old woman's voice she knew she had to go up to solve this 'crisis'.
So many thoughts were spinning through her mind. The frequency of the outbursts was increasing; yet the woman wanted to continue to live in the high rise. After all, her husband had lived with her there.
Six years earlier, a week before 9/11 she buried her life's partner. She shared over 50 years with him and six children later, she still loved him dearly. Gradually, she adjusted to life alone. Jeanna showed her how to set up her check book and she dutifully paid her rent; the electric and her cable bills. She eventually was able to balance the check book. She reveled in her victory.
During her five years alone, she enjoyed all the holiday parties; joined a rosary group and never missed her weekly bingo game. She won often and gave away the small prizes she won.
Her health was very good for an eighty year old. With each passing year, her osteoporosis was more painful . She eventually needed someone present in the bathroom to aid her if she fell. But her mind was becoming her biggest impediment.
Recently, she had cursed at her neighbor and a different assistant. She believed the assistant was talking about her when she was supposed to be doing her laundry. She caught her " in the act". She said. She and the neighbor got written up by the director of the high rise. She fired the assistant that day. She was on her way to being labeled a difficult resident. Now, this latest outburst. Her daughter knew hard decisions were coming.