Giving Care in Life Transitions
No matter where you are in life, you will have to deal with life transitions. Chances are, your parents, your children, and maybe even your grand-children’s life transitions may find you in the role of caregiver. Recently, I lived through the most emotionally taxing of the life transitions I’ve ever faced.
Worst of My Life Transitions
Even more than my own divorce, my precious father’s death, or mom’s giving up driving, her transition into assisted living was the biggest challenge yet. The worst of my life transitions so far, surprisingly. Yet, as it turns out, the greatest blessing.
By summer of 2010, when mom took an Alaskan cruise with my brother, hubby John and me, it was clear to all of us that she was facing one of the biggest of her life transitions so far. Alaska was the 50th of the 50 states for her to visit – a huge dream fulfilled. But when my brother had to rent a wheelchair for her on the cruise, it really rattled him. Living out of town, he just hadn’t watched her health gradually decline, as we had.
Life Transitions, Up Close and Uncomfortable
Back home, on her own, Mom bought a new car. By May 2011, when my brother saw her again, he was shocked that “she was allowed to keep driving.” Ah, the wake-up call of seeing life transitions, up close and uncomfortable.
Shortly thereafter, I had started accompanying her on medical appointments so second pair of eyes and ears bore witness to what she remembered about conversations. I had begun setting out her medications by time of day, one week in advance.
Worst of Mom’s Life Transitions: Loss of Driving
By summer, for her own safety and those of others, driving privileges were suspended — first, on a trial, and soon after, permanently. Mom fumed, sure that I had asked the doctor to “take away her independence.” Convinced I was innocent, mom was nonetheless hurt and disappointed. Of all the life transitions she had faced, she explained, “this is the one that makes me feel that I have no more freedom.”
Looking Ahead to Our Own Life Transitions
That night was the first time I shared my sadness about life transitions through my mother’s eyes, and the humor of the situation, projecting our own day of reckoning. Another wake-up call, viewing life transitions through the lenses of our own eyes.
Life Transitions Crisis
Two days after we sold her car, when I picked her up for a routine doctor’s appointment, Mom had taken the entire day’s dosage of medications. Confused, calling me by her sister’s name and unable to remember our doctor’s name, Mom was taken down the hall for a lab test. The door closed, and the doctor and I shared tears in the exam room. The time had come to take steps for mom’s safety, the doctor explained. “Of all the consequences of life transitions, this is the one that breaks my heart,” she said. After a week in the hospital for complete diagnosis, we still were not sure of the next steps.
Mom’s Move, Out of Control
While I was out of town, the hospital insisted that she be moved to a skilled nursing facility, which they had chosen. In angst, I was pressured to sign and return faxed papers. She was admitted that night, with strangers transporting her. It felt awful, totally out of my control, truly one of the most dreadful parts of facing Mom’s aging process.
Can you relate? Part 2 follows, where I share some very direct about truth-telling about Mom’s life transitions.
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