Originally, I thought I would create a blog solely as an outlet for the multitude of emotions related to my mother’s struggle with aging and memory loss, and my struggle to deal with the sea change caused in my life by becoming her caretaker. Watching the changes in her has reminded me that life is so fleeting, and while I am consumed with my job and caretaker duties, I also need to find my purpose, my true north, and decide how to live the rest of my life before it’s too late.
In early 2012, I started seeing and hearing significant capability and personality changes in my Mother, prompting a visit to a gerontologist and aging specialist. Through this process, she was diagnosed in the summer of 2012 with mild cognitive impairment, while living alone 800 miles from me, her closest family. I guess medical professionals are hesitant to label someone on the periphery with dementia or Alzheimer’s, but the doctor agreed; she should consider moving closer to family and assisted living. In January of 2013, she finally agreed to move to a lovely assisted living facility near me. My only sibling lives another 7 hours from here, so for the most part, I am her caregiver. In the last 9 months since she arrived, I have seen a rapid decline in her memory function, but putting her through more testing to figure out where she falls on the dementia scale seems cruel and unnecessary at this point. As you might expect, she found the original testing process terribly frustrating and difficult.
So, an interaction this weekend brought something of an epiphany for me, and a call to action. My mother and I were driving back from a shopping errand and she effused about what a beautiful day it was; the blue sky, the puffy white clouds, the sun shining. The “old” Mom, pre-dementia, would have been much too busy to even notice the gorgeous, early fall day. It struck me as so sad that she had to progress to this stage to appreciate the wonders of nature. I can only hope that she will remember the pleasure she got from her observation.
On Sunday, my husband and I were volunteering for a local 100 mile bicycle ride in the mountains, and were treated to a spectacular cloud formation. I was in awe and just stared at the sky for the longest time, finally rousing myself to take this shot.
So, while I know life is short, and I do need to continue the reinvention process, I also need to remember to enjoy life while it is happening, not focus solely on the future…the gifts can be simple but so powerful.