Adult Children of Aging Parents: A Daughter's Conversation With Her Mother
The Back Story
I am an adult child of aging parents. The time has come to make a difficult decision. Mom and Dad are no ;longer able to maintain their home. It's just too much for them. They know it and we, their children, know it, But how do you ask your parents to pack a bag and walk away from the place where so many memories live?
For weeks I have practiced (in my head) how the conversation might go. It is an emotional time for all of us. What you are about to read is fiction. It is a conversation that only exists in the tangled web between my heart and my head. It feels real.
Mom, I Thought of You Today
You were on my mind today. Could you feel it? I've never been able to keep secrets from you have I? The last few weeks have been hard and it's clear that things are getting harder for you at home. Even with someone cleaning the house and mowing the lawn, it's still hard, isn't it?
Do you know how I wish that I could just come and stay there with you; to make sure you're eating and taking your medicine on schedule? I would love to spend my days with you instead of worrying about you. I hope you know that.
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We're doing all we can to keep you in your home. You've loved it so. It's more than a house to you, and me too. It holds so many memories for all of us. It holds a lot of stuff too, huh? Sometimes I wonder about the treasures I will find when you're not there anymore and we are packing up all those precious memories. You've kept them all and I know there are things hidden away that are going to tear my heart to shreds when we find them. I can barely breathe when I think of it.
If only you hadn't had the stroke. If only he didn't have Alzheimer's. If...
You'd like to stay there until the end, I know. I wish that for you too. But it won't be long before he won't be able to do the things for you that have kept you there. He's slipping Mom and we all see it. It just hurts too bad to talk about it. So, we don't.
Until now, it's been safe. His memory wasn't great but he still had enough rationale to turn off the stove. But lately we've all noticed the change. He's disconnecting and we can't stop it. Soon he will need to be watched like a toddler. We won't be able to trust his ability to keep you both safe. And then we'll have to make the decision.
Will you hate us for it, when we say you have to move? Sometimes I think it might be good for him, with fewer familiar things around to trigger those partial memories. He would have somebody else to talk to, to tell his stories to time after time. But what about you Mom? Will you hate it? Will you hate us for making you leave your home?
You taught me to be brave, both of you did. You even showed me how when you had the stroke and had to fight so hard to come back. And Dad, well, I remember the first night he had to come home without you. He was so sad and told us over and over that he didn't care if you ever talked again, he just wanted you to be at home with him. He couldn't bear being there without you. But he did it. He showed us how brave he was. You've both been so brave that I don't think I can tell you how scared I am right now. You would be so disappointed in me for being so scared. I can't tell you that the time is coming when we have to move you from the only home we've known as a family. I just can't find the words that will help me when I look into your eyes and try to speak it. And so, I write. I write so that I say what I can't say to you face to face. Will the anger fill you up and change our relationship forever? Will you hate your new home Mom? Will you hate me too?
Learn about Alzheimer's Disease
- Alzheimer's Disease and Dementia | Alzheimer's Association
Learn about signs and symptoms, stages, diagnosis, research progress, treatment and care of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Get support from our 24/7 Helpline, message boards and your local Alzheimer's Association Chapter.
Alzheimer's disease is stealing my Dad from us. If you haven't been touched by this disease, you will be. One is seven people over the age of 65 will be diagnosed with Alzheimer's. There is no cure and no real treatment. Medications can slow the progression of the disease but nothing stops it.
If someone you know has a loved one with Alzhemier's, reach out to them. It is a disease that is more painful for the caregivers than it is to the person with the disease. Learn about Alzhemier's before it strikes. Know what the warning signs are. Early treatment can buy families precious time.