With adulthood comes responsibility for one's aging parents. The roles inevitably reverse. When an adult-child steps into this role the transition can be precarious or unexpected. A parent suffering from a chronic disease can intensify the process with their needs.
Recently I was put in contact with a woman whose mother has Alzheimer's Disease. The young woman's knowledge of the disease and the services available to families coping with it astounded me. I suddenly realized how uninformed I was; and now I'm playing catch up.
Just yesterday a seemingly trivial incident created a watershed for my mother, my father's caregiver. Dad stuffed the toilet with some unknown objects again. It meant the plumber had to come to the house and use a snake to clear the pipe. The plumber had just been to the house last week, charging $100 for each visit. It's a reoccurring incident. My mother called me sobbing over the phone as she tried to unplug the toilet with a plunger. To date, my mother has received no outside help caring for my father. The reality is that Dad can't care for himself anyone. The incident prompted a complete meltdown.
My sister - who has been responsible for getting some of my parents' basic needs met - has been in California for the past month; and now I'm scrambling to figure out what services are out there for them. I finally got my mother to use Peapod.com and Poland Springs delivery services.
A sweet "message" revealed itself to me as I drove from NYC to Worcester area this afternoon. I was reminded of my maternal grandfather who was an even-tempered person known for saying "take it easy" in a reassuring manner when the moment deemed necessary. As I drove through Worcester on my way to my parents' house, the Eagles song "Take It Easy" came on the radio. It was a sign of sorts to remind me to remain centered. Maybe my grandfather was guiding me home.
Life throws you curve balls and you learn to integrate them into your life. My dad's condition has been part of my narrative for over 10 years. After I mourned his condition, I was resigned to lead a full life, seeing his illness as a gift, teacher. Unresolved issues still dangle. I now know how to charm him. But until now, I didn't have to play a central role in his care needs.
This evening I put an inquiry out to my Twitter contacts about services available in Massachusetts. Within seconds I received an outpouring of support.
Kindhearted people reached out. Thank you.