Monday, February 8, 2016

"How can you not remember that?

by Terri


This photo was taken on my mother’s 89th birthday. She and my sister (on the right) drove down from the mountains to have a birthday lunch with me and a family friend and we had a wonderful time. My mother is lucky to have her health and mental faculties for the most part but I’m going to say something politically incorrect here: Sometimes she can drive me crazy. I love you Mom but I’ve heard the story about (fill in the blank) so many times I can tell it myself — in my sleep. Eventually it just happens, and out of my well-meaning mouth tumbles things that I really don’t mean but they … just … slip … out.
 
Maybe you, like me, have caught yourself saying some of these:

1. “How can you not remember that!?” That lengthy discussion you had last week with your mom might as well never have happened. Seniors often lose short-term memory before long-term and forget all kinds of things we think are monumentally important, like where they put their glasses or the keys or what weekend you’re coming to visit. Patience is the key so I just tell her again.


2. “I just showed you how to use the DVR yesterday.” Oh, my gosh, am I ever guilty of this one! Learning new technology is tough for any adult, but gadgets with lots of buttons and options pose a special challenge for someone whose cognition or eyesight is failing. My mom does fine with written directions, so that’s what I do because showing her doesn’t seem to stick.
 
3. “What does that have to do with what we're talking about?” One minute we’re discussing summer vegetables and the next she's talking about a problem with her hot water heater. What happened? Instead of getting frustrated with her, I gently lead her back to the conversation we were having or I say nothing and just listen.
 
4. “You already told me that.” And you don’t ever repeat yourself? We all say things more than once — but because elderly parents seem to do it all the time, we lose our patience with them. Instead, I say: “I think you might have mentioned that.”

 
When I really think about it, it’s the fact that she is definitely growing older that I find hard to accept and that makes me more critical than necessary. But, instead of focusing on the things that have changed, I’m trying to focus on how grateful I am to still have my mother with me. A lot of people have parents in ill or failing health or have lost them all together so I am so lucky. And before I know it, this list will come in handy for my kids! 






12 comments:

Irina Kolosovskaya said...

The theme is not so easy... It's a wise article, Terri. And yes, this list will come in handy for our kids before we could realize this fact...

Carol said...

Not long is correct -I am already repeating my stories, in case you haven't noticed! I will add one more trick. A few of my patient's grandchildren have started taking videos of me showing how to change the batteries and clean their hearing aids. They go home and put it on an iPad so their parents can watch it when they are confused.
I agree that the underlying cause of much of our impatience is frustration that we cannot stop the process of losing those we love -its hard to watch the progression. As you have shown here Terri - slow down and go with kindness. We will be there in no time.

AFishGirl said...

I wish the whole world could slow down. I find it hard to keep up and I'm relatively young. I deal with the elderly every single day in my job and yes, it's hard for them. Everyone is rushed. Here we are the house of notes. I wish I could report that Fishboy (age 75) had a worse memory than me but no, sharp as a tack. Not very mobile but when it comes to memory, he beats me hands down.

Lisa Comperry said...

I am relatively young too..I see it as a matter of choice on whether or not people want to stop buzzing around long enough to let us see their relaxed sides..People's written directions usually fail me, unless they are directions on how to get somewhere, lol...Demonstration, this is the best teaching method for me to learn and retain something....It is my short term memory that is getting worn around the edges, lol :-)

Lisa Comperry said...

Lol, my mom's memory was always as sharp as a tack, much sharper than mine.. With that said, she was physically debilitated and medically fragile in her last 10 years of life..Mom was a rock star in how she made the most of what she had left of her physical abilities..

Dotti said...

Yes, here it is, two sides of the same coin. Our parents may be further along on the aging superhighway; but we're not as far behind as we wish. Just yesterday, I reassured myself that in 20 years (my mom is 20 years older than I), I'd be healthier and fitter than my mom is now. "Oh, really, Dotti?" But that's how we think, isn't it? I believe it's self-preservation, as opposed to self-deception.

All of the things Terri has so beautifully written about are exacerbated in our family by herieditary congenital hearing loss. My mom, even with her hearing aids, has maybe 5% hearing, at best. The scary thing to me is that there aren't enough miles on the treadmill to help me escape the same fate. (Help, Carol!)

And, yes. The world moves too fast - for all of us - of every age, from young to old.

pjs said...

Well said... These are such familiar words! I read a beautiful letter from an aging mom to her daughter and it helped me see the sweetness of their journey and put it in a little different perspective. You have probably already seen this... https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/44/df/e9/44dfe9aa09771f0eb8a1297d556a7913.jpg (forgive me if it doesn't work). I was reminded by someone recently that if we are lucky we will all get to see what it is like to be old... and how we handle it. I pray grace and humor are a part of my journey!

heyjudephotography said...

I just spent the weekend with my 78 year old parents and I feel blessed, but understand the frustration. I know, for me, it's that I just don't want to face the fact that my parents are elderly now. I live away from them, so when I see them I really notice the changes. Nice post Terri - we all feel it.

Deanna said...

I became acquainted with this far too early in my marriage when my husband began those early signs of Alzheimer's. Patience is what I learned, because losing my temper or getting angry, did absolutely no good, only made the matter worse.So I feel your agitation, I feel your pain, but I also see your blessing to still have your Mom in good health.

Focusing on Life said...

Don't worry Dotti - I will be there with the latest technology ( if I can remember where i put it.....)

Focusing on Life said...

Don't worry Dotti - I will be there with the latest technology ( if I can remember where i put it.....)

Dotti said...

Counting on you, Carol! :-D

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