Wednesday, November 25, 2009


Going home is always sobering.  I am so fortunate to still have my mother with me and I know this fact well.  Her gradual decline brought on by getting older continues.  This is inevitable and it is my honor to be a helper and companion on my mom's elder journey.  One of the more frightening complications about this journey is her deep denial of things.  For instance, she does not take her medications as prescribed, it is really hit and miss.  "I do NOT have have high blood pressure, I just went to the doc and it was perfect," this is a frequent response if I mention her meds or the high blood pressure.

She does not take care of her feet (when I arrived her feet looked like Howard Hughes').   Even if I arrange it she does not follow through *including if I pay for the pedicure/foot care in advance*.   The condition of her feet is a real health issue.

She has fairly severe osteoporosis and does not take the Fosomax - if she does not want to take it, that's fine but she needs to acknowledge the consequences.  At this point, she absolutely denies she has brittle bones (this time she told me the doc had given her a bone density test and pronounced her bones were perfect and she could stop the med) - OMG, she is so bent over it looks painful.  She has lost about 3 inches in height in the last 3-4 years and now her head is bent forward on her neck and precedes her body.  She is at risk for fractures if she falls and spine compression fractures just from walking upright.

Here is the rub.  Mother hates that she is aging - and she is in denial about it.  She tells folks that she is 70 (she is more than a decade past 70) and really believes that people are fooled.  So of course she cannot have high blood pressure, osteoporosis and a host of other age-related things.  She admonishes me to "never tell anyone how old you are because you look so young!!"  Hmmmmmm, could it be that if I say my age then others can count on their fingers about hers?????  I  bite my tongue a lot of time.

Some of this is endearing, some of it is really frustrating and some of it is downright dangerous.  I am respectful of my mother and I do not say some of the things that should be said, she will not listen anyway and doing so only alienates us.  I worry leaving her here in this two-story house.

We went to the retinal specialist yesterday = she has 20/200 sight in her good eye and 20/2000 or "fingers only" sight in her other.  They now think she may have bleeding in her macula in the good eye and suspect that she may have the beginnings of glaucoma.  I am taking her back to the doc this morning for extensive testing.  There are no corrective lenses that will help her see better at this point.  The eye doctor has given her occular vitamins to take and provided a list of other vitamins and fish oil to be taken twice a day with meals - I am afraid that she will not follow through once I depart.  One blessing - this is a new doctor for mother, he is top notch and most important she likes him! 

There are other things going on besides the health and hygiene situations that are too private to go into.  Suffice to say they are worrisome.  I know that she must make her own adult decisions.  My mother is not incompetent - the problem is - she is not totally competent either.  Time will tell.

Today, I am grateful that I can hug my mom and spend this Thanksgiving surrounded by my family.

ps The Grands are here - there will be photos to come!!!!


  1. That is tough. I know some friends who had to take power away from their parents and boy is that a terrible thing to have to do. If they cannot take care of their own health though, sometimes it has to be done. Awful though if it comes to that :(

    We all will get there (to really old age) but it is clearly very different for how it will be. I think there can be some mental deterioration that changes someone from who they used to be into someone else and it's subtle, not like dementia. It's important to remember who they were even with those changes.

  2. I can feel the love you have for your Mom shining out from your words. Yes, hug her plenty ... and go with your intuition. It's hard - role reversal of any kind :-( xx I hope Thanksgiving is peaceful for you HUGS

  3. I empathize with your situation. It is so hard to see a parent decline as they age and even more difficult to take on the role of caregiver. Enjoy this time with you Mom and the grands :). Happy Thanksgiving.


  4. boy, can i identify with this post. our father is in a big mess in his life, denial leading him down the path to self destruction. we are left wondering how do we define the point at which we must make choices for him. we are hoping so much it doesn't eventually become a legal issue. these are difficult days for all involved.

  5. Sounds like a bit more than denial going on, but very difficult coping for adult children when subtle changes emerge.