March 14, 2015 is the day my Mom died. I skipped writing of it at the time as I just could not but have felt the need to include something in this blog regarding it.
The last few months of her life were pretty hard with a lot of misunderstanding and a lack of patience on my part until I made some rules for myself and remembered things about dealing with folks with memory issues that I learned years ago. For whatever reason I had not thought to apply them in my Mom’s case.
Memory is so fluid, especially in the aged. I knew not to say ‘Remember I told you…’ or such things but I did it. A reminder – did I say something about memory in the aged? – from the chaplain here at Wesley was needed! There are other ways of saying this including to simply say what is needed without the ‘Remember….’ part.
One of my deepest regrets is the frustration and arguments that resulted when she could not hear me. I learned:
- to carry paper and pencil to write messages. At first she resisted reading them but did figure out it worked! I’d write, she’d read and communication was achieved which stopped the frustration and arguments.
- to not accept it if she was…well unkind. It was ok to tell her I did not need to listen to her and was leaving and then to actually leave.
- that I could not count on the caregivers to change the batteries in her hearing aids – I needed to do it myself.
- to visit on my schedule, staying as long as was good for me. I learned to not worry if she did not remember I was there.
- to write on her calendar when I was there so when she complained of not seeing me in weeks/days whatever I could say ‘look at the calendar Mom’ and talk, without the word ‘remember’, of what we had done.
- It was ok to tease gently about her sleeping through my visit!
- I needed to be ready to repeatedly explain once more how to call me. This comment requires explanation – If calling a room inside Wesley you dial only the last four digits. Mom knew we lived in the building so kept dialing the last four of my cell phone which, of course, did not work at all! She needed to dial a ‘7’ for an outside line then my full number. She could not understand why she had to do this when I lived in the building.
- I had to get a phone with an answering machine capability and have her simply call my room. This did not work as she expected me to always answer even though she knew I was at church or some such because I always answered my cell when she called
- she did not understand cell phones at all!
- how much I loved her and am still learning how much I miss her.
The last some weeks were good! Having figured out many things and established rules which worked for me our relationship was solid and we were able to enjoy each other.
In recent months Betty H. has come to live in my Mom’s room. I headed down one day to visit but I’ve learned I was not ready to enter that room.