Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Yarnarian Chats About Aging. WArning: Long Post!

Good grief, I haven't posted since last Tues! Blame it on the family crises, which are now somewhat abating. Happiness is a life coming out of crisis mode. I don't think you ever appreciate how lovely peace and quiet are until you've been kicked out of that mode. Well, I won't say anything else lest the evil spirits hear me.

Mommie news
: I have a charming Mommie story to tell you. For those of you who are fairly new to this blog, I have a 94 year old Mom (95 in 3 months!) who is living in what the Hubbo calls an "elderly commune". Not a nursing home, not even assisted living, but an organized group of 24 people living in a "home" within a senior apt. house. No nursing staff, but the kitchen folks will open up the pill containers and the residents will then take their pills. Lots of close interaction: the folks eat lunch and dinner together, breakfast is buffet, and the Mommie chooses to sleep through breakfast. Hey, she's healthy and it's her choice.

The most wonderful staff anywhere. Everyone from the director to the cleaning staff is wonderful and kind to the residents. It's not elegant, no fancy wallpaper in the halls and meeting rooms that no one uses, and gorgeous china in elegant cabinets. None of that, but such wonderful love and care! I cannot begin to tell you what a nice place this is for people who can no longer live on their own. Most of the residents are somewhat hard of hearing, lots of short term memory loss, the usual aches and pains of very old age, but people muddle through. Each person has her own apartment with the stoves disabled. Apparently too many people forgot they had their stoves on and there were all sorts of fire dept calls. OK, everybody here is well done with cooking, and besides, the meals are home cooked with their own private chef making dinner, and the morning chef makes the best soup in the universe.

You're getting the picture. OK, so the Mommie spent Tues night with us quite unexpectedly. The staff knew of course. Wed we brought her back about 10 minutes after supper started. When the folks, including all the staff, saw her, they broke out into applause and welcomed her back. " E.., it's so good to see you; we missed you; welcome back!" This after only one night not there. The look on her face was priceless! Can you imagine such a charming reaction? So that's the latest Mommie story.

And speaking of the Mommie, her short term memory is getting considerably worse, but she's quite safe, and I hired a companion to get her out of bed and showered and dressed. And her lovely companion now convinces her to take part in some of the activities. My Mommie! Who would believe.

All of which has made me do some serious thinking about extreme old age, and what it means. Most people's reaction to me chatting about Mom's memory loss, is to say: Oh, the poor dear. And then they make murmuring soothing sympathetic sounds. I have to say that, while I do wish Mom were the way she was 4 years ago, I'm not disturbed by her memory loss. She's physically amazingly healthy and comfortable, and is not particularly bothered by the fact that she never remembers what you said 10 minutes ago. She just asks her questions again and you respond again. Is it great? Hell, no. But it seems to be part of that extreme aging process, and as long as she's well cared for, and she is, it's nothing to worry about or even feel sad about. Her sense of humor is amazing, much better than it was, she's made her adjustment to living where she is. Sometimes she forgets her house, where she lived for a bazillion years). So? I remind her of it and then we have a memory moment that's quite charming. And if we have pretty much the same conversation each time I visit, it's no sweat off my back. We laugh, I tease her about her memory, she laughs back, and it's very very pleasant.

The key thing to this point of old age is care and safety. Fortunately she doesn't have Alzheimer's. That's a different disease entirely. She just has what used to be called senile dementia. I don't like the word "dementia". It implies that there is this crazy screaming lunatic prowling around. Nope, it should be called senile memory loss. Much better.

At first, when we moved her into the "Home" (as she used to call it), I felt terribly guilty that I couldn't tolerate her living with us. No guilt now! She's surrounded by people her own age with much of the same frailties, and she has a support group here. Plus, I'm not constantly on her case to remember her meds, to eat properly, to watch TV with us. She has as much company as she wants, people watch out for her, the staff is beyond incredible, and she's genuinely happy. The Hubbo and I feel that if we get to her stage in life, we would be very content to live in a place like this.

MIL news: More mom news, this time about my MIL, who fell yet again, broke 2 fingers and clobbered her pelvis. She's now in a very good nursing home, where she gets plenty of therapy a day, and is feeling a bit better. She's understandably disgusted with the entire mess; this is the 2nd time she has had a major fall and breakage, but she's hanging in there, and is not quite as depressed as when she first fell. Fortunately my BIL and SIL live the next town over, so she has company. She's a very gregarious person, and this particular nursing home is good for her. And of course, she sees her kids. We visited this weekend and she's looking pretty good for someone in her current shape. The goal is to get her walking again. Yup, she needs a walker; therapy is to keep her out of a wheel chair. So they're working her.

The Ex is out of intensive care and in telemetry, which I suppose is better than ICU. He's in pretty bad shape, but seems to be rallying. My daughters are dealing with it. Not great, but that's the way it is, and they're doing OK.

Miss P news: Ah, I've saved the best for last: Miss P is having a piece of her art work from first grade exhibited at the Minnesota State Fair! Picasso, move over; here comes Miss P. Is this cute or what? Her folks have promised me a pic; they can't remember which art work it is, so it will be a surprise for them.

We saw the MA family this weekend. Everyone is fine. the Principessa is getting ready for Kindergarten, and The Kid is howlingly funny. He kept trying to sing us some camp song, and got so silly that he fell down laughing. I love 9 year olds; they are so goofy.

And that's it. I suspect I've been redundant here, what with my comments about old age, and such. And ask me if I care! Hah. It's good therapy for me, too. giggle.

Maggisen - Sometimes she does have trouble following a conversation, mostly it seems, because she is not focusing. It's not disturbing, once you understand what is happening. but temper tantrums, or similar behavior - no. She can be very fuzzy, but then the fog clears, and she is her old self again. She sleeps and sleeps and sleeps. It feels as if she is winding down. Does that make any sense?

Linda - I think I will turn into my mother. I feel it coming upon me already!

2 comments:

Maggisen said...

Oh dear... well, senile dementia is not only about short-term memory loss, it's about a lot more. A person suffering from dementia have severe problems coping with everyday life in all its aspects. She/he has problems reading, can not follow a conversation, throws tantrums like a 3-year old if they are contradicted... So you see, just because your mom has some short-term memory problems, that does not make her a senile dement. On the other hand, my mother is and that is quite a different thing.

Linda said...

My mom was cranky and contrary all of her life until the end when, it was as if she had finally accepted some big truth that the rest of us didn't even know about. She was so peaceful, yarn scattered all around her and making collages for her nurses. For me, it was reassuring and such a relief to see her, finally, happy.

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