A new perspective about how the elderly feel.

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I can't think of many reasons why breaking my ankle is a positive thing. I'm trying to make good of a very bad situation I guess and this is what I have realized: I've been mostly helpless now for five days. I can get around by crawling, hopping on one foot, crutches - forget it - I don't need to fall again. Even with a walker, I can't take care of myself beyond a sponge bath, taking 10 minutes to get to the bathroom, etc. Bottom line - I am depending on my spouse to take care of me which he is trying to do. But, he isn't good at it, he doesn't anticipate my needs, I have to ask for everything, one by one. Then I feel like a baby, a nag, totally a burden. Its 11:40. I've had coffee, no breakfast, because I haven't said I want breakfast, so its assumed if I don't ask, I don't want it. If I ask, I feel like a pest so I am sitting here, hungry and contemplating whether it is worth it to heave myself out of the chair and hobble into the kitchen and eat a bowl of cereal while standing at the counter. Nah, I'll wait until I have to make a bathroom run and grab a cookie and maybe I'll get lunch in another hour or so.
Then it occurred to me - this is probably how most of our parents and grandparents must feel if they have any conscience or if they are still cognizant and know they are helpless and a burden for their most basic needs. I feel more sympathy for all of them, and for my mother (even though she has needs that she refuses to let anyone help her with - so she is the exception)
Anyway, I think about how it must feel to be really old, and wonder if I want to live if I can no longer take care of myself. Worse than being helpless is feeling like a burden.
Sorry for the rambling - I've had wayyyyyyyyyy too much time to think about things.

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AmyGrace, I can relate. My Mom isn't quite where yours is but definately has her moments. It's a battle to get her into the tub and she hates her hair being washed even more. But what you said at the end there, my Mom has been the same way, while she did incredible things and was an amazingly intelligent and courageous woman, she always put herself down and still does thru the dementia. It makes me soooo angry. Whatever negative influence that got to her in childhood stuck and it is so sad.
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vstefans. Yes, I am washing and ironing her blouses, jackets and slacks (and washing all the dirty dishes she sticks under the sink, etc). And no, she doesn't want me to do it because she doesn't think they need it. She will wear filthy stained ripped clothes, for days or weeks at a time. If I offer to wash and iron them, she gets nasty - "Everyone says I always look nice (they don't any more) - or when you are 100 years old you can't be expected to be clean." So basically, she just wants to wear what she wore 8 years ago when once someone complimented her, but her dementia makes it so she doesn't really care how she looks any more. Its more of a habit to wear what she is familiar with and nothing new. Five years ago, in IL, one of the residents kindly suggested to me that I might want to "take that jacket for a little while" because she wore it every single day for weeks". She hasn't showered in 3 years, she has refused her hair appointment for the past three weeks. Sadly, its her dementia progressing and I know she is depressed, always has been, and very negative. Unfortunately she refused to move to AL and family backed her for years (she has been incapable of taking medication responsibly and wouldn't let an aide in the door. A few years ago she either threw away 7 days of Aricept, or took it all in 2 days - all she said was she took it all, and everything was gone when I got there) I understand that one of the stages of Alzheimers is physical and verbal aggression and anger all of which she has started to exhibit. I know, deep down she is slipping, losing her grip on reality. Its very sad to watch. I'm sure she is very frightened. At 100 death is not far away and if I were that age I would think about it often. What is hard is to watch someone who is capable of some level of helping herself, but refusing to do it and refusing others also. Mom has always been weird that way, sort of self destructive.
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I spoke to my MIL yesterday. She's wonderful, so is my FIL. They're in their 80's and have been "ok" for the most part, although as my FIL says, "Getting old is not for sissies!" Physical issues mostly -- no dementia thank goodness.
Anyway, my FIL's vision has been going downhill for a while, and he stopped driving at night a few years ago. Yesterday, his eye doctor told him he couldn't drive at all anymore.
He's not at all like my mother, who was furious, indignant, and continued to drive anyway until we took her car away from her. He was sad, and so is my MIL, but they understand and will comply.
My husband and I were sympathetic and also relieved that he won't be driving anymore. Their daughter who lives somewhat nearby offered to pitch in (he volunteers at a hospice several times a week--really a wonderful man), and I know it's kind of a lot for her, so they're looking into other transportation. As gracious as they are about everything, it's still sad.
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@Capt: What the heck are you going on about??
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bla , bla , bla . ive been working on my mule faced helpers truck all day and its clear to me that she feels entitled to my help -- cause im a guy , im supposed to jump to save her in that department . what im going to do is fire her and do the stonework without her lethargic , overpaid , dumb ass ..
this goes back about 2 years . i fixed her car three times when she was my mothers hospice aid . when i asked her for the agreed upon respite she flatly refused the first time and ignored my text the second time i asked . men dont like being taken advantage of either . EVERYBODY pull out their debit card , heather destroys machines then expects other people to pay for it . what a joke ..
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AmyGrace, your mom is most likely angry and mean because she is depressed. And she may be depressed because she can't keep up appearances...in some ways it is not selfish, but trying to hold on to her standards by wanting to have her clothes ironed...switching to easy-care to her would mean she had given up. I'm assuming you also wash her "filthy" blouses and jackets? Or is she not letting you do that??
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My Mom will sometimes get to crying and saying that she is upset because she can't do anything. And sometimes she will cry when I'm changing her diaper, saying that I shouldn't have to be doing it..etc..so yeah, I totally think that it is an insult upon injury to these people who are already suffering.
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I've never been very mechanically inclined, to say the least, but I've never minded doing physical, "outdoor" stuff. There's a funny picture somewhere of me wielding a chain saw. It's a smaller version of the one you can rent at Home Depot - well, I couldn't rent it, because the guy behind the counter said I looked too small to handle it. Fair enough :)
I've helped my husband with some yucky tasks, like removing a dead rat from the attic, installing insulation in places he was too big to get to, and so on. But when we were discussing moving the t.v. in the living room from one wall to another, which would require the moving of a gazillion wires, speakers, etc., he told me that if it were just me living there, I should "just move" instead. And I think I would!
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cwillie, you are right about many older women not knowing how to maintain a home on their own... my Mom would be that way. I had to laugh back when I was first divorced how my Mom said she would send Dad over to my house to change the furnace filter, guess she thought it was come highly complex project :P But back in her generation, husbands had their chores, and wives had theirs, and rarely did it ever cross over.

But now my Mom is finally showing Dad how to use the washing machine, how to do some simple things in the kitchen, how to use the vacuum, how to write out a check, how to use the budget book, etc. Oh well, better late than never.... I mean very late as they are both in their 90's.

The newer generation is more crossed trained, thank goodness :) I was ahead of my time as I preferred to shadow Dad on his chores than my Mom. Oh well, I can't cook, but I know how to fix things.
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Breaking my ankle back in my 20's sensitized me to to the barriers that most don't seem to notice, from uneven sidewalks to thoughtlessly placing a bench below the buttons for and automatic door to websites that use creative low contrast colour schemes. It's beyond me why we are still building new homes, often of monstrous size, that still have narrow doorways and halls and devote not a second's thought to universal design principles.
As for the great divide between men and women, I think independent women have had to spend their lives learning how to do things in a different way from men, who often use their superior strength and height, not to mention the "old boys network", to get things done. Unfortunately many older women allowed their husbands to take care of things and were totally unprepared and/or unwilling to look after their homes, finances etc when they needed to.
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