Get What You Can, Can What You Get, Then Sit On Your Can

Last updated: November 2022

This is an odd life philosophy, and at first, glance sounds greedy, but I suppose I am greedy for time with my mother.

Mom has been living with us since 2012 after dad passed. She had been his sole caregiver. They lived with us in Buffalo for half of the year. I could help; the weather was cooler, and doctors and shopping were within a 15-minute drive. Everything in Buffalo is 15 minutes away.

Her health wasn't terrible then, and I wanted it to stay that way. It was hot down in Mississippi in the summer. Mom and dad started staying with us in our beautiful summers in western New York. They had rooms in our house, so it only made sense for mom to join us permanently.

Honestly, I would worry more if she stayed on the other side of the country.

Mom's activity

Mom has been helpful over the years. When the kids were younger, she could watch them, even as they got older, and didn't appreciate it as much.

She could do the grocery shopping. I could follow her location on my phone, so I knew she was where she was supposed to be. She even cooked a few meals. I think that was the first to go. Accidentally or on purpose?

She doesn't drive anymore, so we go shopping together. It's the most exercise she gets! We walk all over Walmart or Sam's club. I can't get her to go past the sidewalk at home!

Can you do it all?

Now, mom's job is to empty the dishwasher and help put away the groceries. She used to do her laundry, but it's in the basement of our new house.

The last thing she needs is to carry a laundry basket on a flight of stairs. It is the last thing she would ever do! I do her laundry and make her bed. That last part, I think, is a mistake, not that she could do it, but it's something we could do together.

I have a lot on my plate. I do things myself to expedite things and move on to the next. Getting someone else involved takes more time and explanation.

Can my care partner peeps relate? Can my care partner peeps also see the pitfall of this philosophy? What does it get us? Talk about a recipe for isolation, burnout, and depression!

Meeting mom at her current ability

We have to be willing to ask and explain and for it to take longer. My mom asked if she could help me make my bed. My automatic response is, "Oh, that's ok." I stopped myself. Instead, I said, "Sure!"

I was faster and did most of it, but it was one less pillow I had to shove into a pillowcase awkwardly. She was glad to help me. I help her a lot. It was a nice moment for both of us. I don't want mom to lose all of her skills yet.

We put her clothes away together. She folded her clothes but left them in the laundry basket for several days. Finally, I asked about it. She didn't know where they went.

Accepting help

Decision-making is a big casualty of Alzheimer's disease. We did it together, and it went quicker than she could manage on her own. That's a good lesson. Getting help sometimes is actually faster!

I have to tell you, I had to work, so my son took my mom to her podiatry appointment, where he sat while she got her toenails cut! I don't even like to watch that! God bless my son! It may not be a memory he will cherish, but I sure will!

It was nice not to reschedule and let someone else take something off my plate. They went to McDonald's afterward, so it wasn't all bad. He was actually really great about it, but it makes me laugh to think about it. She would tell you herself (if she could get the words out) that she does not have nice feet!

Coping with ability changes

We get done what we can. We do our best. We try to hold on to time with our loved ones and whatever abilities they still possess. I want to keep as much of "her" with me as possible.

I can do it alone, but do I have to? Is that really the best? I can reach out. I can let others in, including my mom. I won't have to sit alone.

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