Thursday, October 16, 2014

Aging parents: the humor, the sadness, life

Not me :) (Source)

 My parents are getting to that point where their age is setting in.

 Dad is 79. Mom is 76. I've sat through doctor's appointments with Dad, gone with him to pick out hearing aids and take him to get his heart medication. I've taken Mom to the hospital for cataract surgery and will take her shortly for another test where they'll get her loopy and I'll be driving her home.

 My patience is being tested more. I get easily irritated by them, but I also see the humanity there too. I remember my poor grandma who died at 87-heart problems and Alzheimer's robbed her memory. It was so sad. Sadly though, I see my mom heading down the same path as her mother. And it scares me. Conversations with her go something like this now:

(Parents looking at 10-year-old Thomas Guides searching for something)

Mom: "Oh hi Kim! Your dad and I are searching for (holds up new restaurant flier) this new place because we'd like to try them tonight."

Me: "Um, I'm sure the phone number is on the flier. Why don't you call them and ask?"

Mom: "Oh, they don't know where they are..."

 Me: "Can I see the flier?" I picked up the phone and called the place. They knew where they were. :)

 I've read that depression in the elderly can mimick Alzheimer's and wonder if that's what Mom has. It would make sense. She seems bored and is probably stressed out due to some different family situations. She isolates herself and seems moody. I don't think she'd ever admit she needs help though. When I think of poor Grandma though, I wish she would. She's highly intelligent but just seems to hate life, in my opinion.

 Mom just scares me now. She's forgetting words and what they mean. She sleeps all the time also. I can tell she hates life. She has macular degeneration now and drove me home for the last time after my procedure in August because she couldn't read the street signs.

 Dad, on the other hand, is a spitfire at 79. He had a stroke 16 years ago that forced him into retirement. Even though one side is basically not functional anymore, he still loves life. He accepts his age and recently said to me that I'm simply going to have to understand that he and my mom are getting close to 80 and have lost their steam. Fair enough. He's an amazing pain in the ass though who still thinks he can do a lot of the things he did when he was younger. He also loves life, has hobbies and keeps in touch with friends. He also reached out for help when he was depressed after his stroke. The whole block knows him because he walks their dog every evening and are concerned when they see me walking the dog instead.

 Dad is very mean and stubborn as hell when he argues with me. He knows how to push my buttons and does not stop talking anymore. When he explains something now, he'll literally go back to the turn of the century to explain a concept. His hearing loss makes it hard for him to watch TV, which means I'm explaining the program when over. (He has a hearing aid in one ear but can't put one in his other where there's a benign tumor that the surgeon couldn't take out all the way.) It's not pleasant to watch TV with him.... He also throws a fit when he doesn't get his way. It's like dealing with a child.

 I have an older sister who last visited them six months ago. She vowed to never visit them again. It's because it's not "fun" to visit them, she told me in a call from home the next day. She has issues, to put it mildly. It was sad when Mom cried to me "You're all I have!" It's true. My sister doesn't care. End of subject.

 Some of my friends have lost their parents, so I know I'm fortunate to still have mine. Frustrations and all. I'm just sad that we're at this point.

 It's sad to see the people you love becoming helpless in some ways.

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