The new "norm" and how to deal with it.

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Many of you remember me--86 yo mother living at brother's, 3 other sibs totally off board with mother's care--mother "kicked me out of her life" last Dec. b/c she thought I had torpedoed her choice to have elective hip replacement surgery---now you're all caught up.

Time heals all wounds, I guess. I did in fact keep away from mother's for the last almost 6 months. Yesterday, after my massage was cancelled (dang) I felt the impression that I needed to stop by an see her and planned to spend 10 minutes, by the clock with her. Not do anything to help, just say hi and test the waters and leave.

She greeted me at the door in a panic! "Oh, I am SO glad you're here! I have been praying all day for you to come." (Ok, yes, she could have CALLED me, but as I have said before, she cannot remember my phone # (after 37 years of having the same one!)) so I just asked what the problem was. She needed glucose test strips!! Now!! She was in an absolute panic. So I said, "OK, we can do that. Get some shoes on and let's run my groceries home and then we'll go to the pharmacy".

She came with me, and commented on how lovely my front yard is. She asked how long had I had the patio in the front? and I said, "Oh, well, more than 10 years"....then I said, "Hey, can you walk to backyard?" She was hesitant to have to walk 40 feet, but she did and was shocked by how changed it was---well, 10+ years since she'd seen that. She did actually say "This is so lovely--I can tell you really put a lot of love in this yard". OMGosh--a compliment from mother!?

But how SAD that she lives a little over a mile away and has not been to my house since Father's Day 13 years ago. She's welcome any time, but won't come.

We got the test strips (and hugged every single person in the dang store on the way.....she NEVER hugs any of us, it's funny). Got her back home, settled in and I couldn't help but check out the state of her place. Nobody has cleaned since the last time I did it after Thanksgiving. It's dusty, grimy and gloomy. I asked who was cleaning for her and she said "Oh, I am kind of just ignoring it all. It's too much. "E" waters my plants." Uh, no, she doesn't, they are all completely dead.

Even though I had sworn to myself I was NOT going to go back to cleaning and fussing her---I am brought to my knees with sadness at her obvious loneliness and the very evident decline that has come about over the past 6 months.

No, I am not her favorite person, but I had to forgive her and I have. I asked "Mom, will you please let me come clean the apartment for you? The dust is so thick and that is not good for your lungs (she has birds, so also a lot of bird feathers and dander)...she hesitated and said in a little voice "are you going to throw a lot of stuff away?" I said, "Of course, the garbage and the dead plants--but what if I get "T" (older sis) to come with me. Would you feel better?" She said that would "probably" be ok.

I am feeling pretty calm about this. I do not expect my brother's family to carry the burden. Mother won't pay someone to clean. Her place is filthy--smelly and needs a good airing. I emailed sis and I am sure she'll come and help one day when mother is out.

I guess the gist of this overly long post is this takeaway--yeah, she's not really going to change towards me and that's got to be OK. I can't step out of her life and not be like the other sibs--conscience won't allow it and I do care about her.
Having not seen her for almost 6 months--then seeing how much worse she is now--barely able to walk and will likely be wheelchair bound very soon--I need to do the right thing.

Not saying this is right for everyone with difficult aging parents, but it's right for me for now.

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Hey, Mulata---
I haven't seen mother since last week's cleaning--but I will spent part of Thursday with her. There's always something to do. She was unhappy last week b/c her photo collages are a mess (the family changes so fast I can't keep these things current!) I will probably go up there and do a very few chores and re-organize the collages for her. Pics all over her cabinets, taped up for years, some of them. I spent quite a while scraping tape off her windows last week.

I think as long as I arrange my "visits" beforehand and only stay as long as I can stand (and as long as she can stand me) we'll be OK.

I REALLY wish I could store 99% of her books and 99% of her puzzle stash--but she wants everything in plain sight. Oh well.

Thanks for asking!!
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MidKid, how are things?

M 8 8
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I am SO SORE today!! That carpet cleaner weighs a ton and even tho brother lifted it into the car for me....you work it by "pulling back" on it....an hour of that was kinda brutal. (I am still recouping from 2 back surgeries).

I do feel better having a clearer head about mother, and glad that brother will go forward with the little remodeling job she's wanted done. I told him I would help with that, as in moving her kitchen area out--and we can (wink wink) lose a LOT of the clutter.
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Hip hip hurray!

Congrats all the way around!

Will u be sore tmrrw?

M88
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Midkid, you are awesome. I salute your new, more clearheaded take on your mom's needs!
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Well--spent well over 5 hours at mother's and got a lot done. Brother took her shopping and took his sweet time getting her back home, so I really got a lot done. The DUST. OMGosh....I don't know how she breathes! I cleaned her carpets (the family has a dog that just cannot refrain from piddling in mother's place) and that was without question the filthiest carpet I've ever cleaned. You have to walk over 20 feet on tile to get to her door, I don't think she has vaccumed in over a year...since the last time I did it. I had all the windows open and scrubbed and dusted without interruption. You can't really clean a place without opening the windows and really getting down and dirty. The dust in some places was over 1/2" thick, and this house does not have forced air heating...I think it's mostly those awful birds.
Also washed all her windows, inside and out. And the blinds. She of course came home and shut all the blinds as she doesn't like a "bright" house.

Some dead plants are gone, but I really think she can't lift her head high enough to see. I also got to toss a lot of old newspapers....she piles them in the hallway, so a lot of the "black water" may just have been ink....

Brother was thrilled I am back. I will only go twice a month now, and do it on the days she grocery shops. I got nothing done while she sat there, talking to me, but a ton done in the 3 hrs she was gone.

Brother says he is going to move ahead with replacing this carpet and her old kitchen floor with new wood flooring. It will cause a lot of stress for mother as she will be "out" of her kitchen and hallway for a couple of days, but we are hoping to purge some of the hundreds of junky tschotkes she insists on keeping. I got about 30% of the place pretty clean. She hoards so many things--makes it hard to clean. But I restrained myself admirably. I didn't throw out the 4' orange rabbit she keeps on her bed. I hate that thing.

Better moods, better day. Hopeful for a better relationship. We'll see.
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Mulata here, and because I care, I said what I said.
Been there, took good care of myself, and since 1999, no complications. I suffered waaaaay too much prior to surgery, so I did not want to suffer for something "I" did to myself.
Hugs,
Good Nite,
M88
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Mulata - thanks for the kind words. I've already been scolded for doing too much too soon - I've never been good at having down time so by day five I got caught vaccuming - but hey, they are hard wood floors so its not like it took a lot of strength! I got sidelined by a UTI however- but it's funny, I don't view a UTI the same way anymore. Since I haven't gone stark raving mad and am not hallucinating- I find it oddly reassuring. At least my mind is still in relatively good shape! So thanks again - you're sweet.
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AAAWWWW,

I am happy for you! Really am! Also brother needs respit from the house.

Dollar Tree (99cent store) or a second hand store has those fake flowers and plants for the yard.

Yes indeedee, I do intersperse my real stuff with fake stuff, and mom tries to cut the fake ones, and says my scissors are no good, hahaha.................!!!

Enjoy, and take a respirator if the dust is so bad,

M88
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Thanks again--I am going to her place tomorrow while she grocery shops with brother. I am going to clean and replace dead plants with fake ones (she won't notice--she does not see well) and dust, dust, dust and clean the carpets.

Brother was SO happy to hear from me. He knew I wouldn't stay mad forever. Also he does need the help. He promised he'd keep mother out for 2 hrs and so I can actually get something done!

We talked for a while and since he's her primary caregiver, he did tell me she's pretty much given up. Barely walks, does the minimum of what she can do. I told him I was truly shocked at how much aging had gone down in less than 6 months, and he said "I think we won't have her in a year. She's just falling to pieces." Well, that's OK. I'm going to be fine, and I am going to respect the boundaries that I set and also the ones she sets. I am glad to be on better terms.
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