I was in my late 50s when I began taking care of my parents, so our family dynamic was pretty established. We were a family of strong personalities. My Mom was the boss and controlled all the family matters. My Dad was patient, easy and outgoing and let her rule the roost.
I grew up with a Mom that pulled out all the stops for the holidays. Our entire house was decorated inside and out from the weekend before Thanksgiving to the weekend after New Year’s. Our house looked like a Hallmark Christmas card.
I was recently thinking about the first conversation I had with my Mom about how I could pitch in and help her out more. At the time, I wasn’t sure what that meant – and I most certainly didn’t know how to have such an important and serious discussion.
My Mom, who had been diagnosed with dementia, was leaning up against the sink in the bathroom. Her soapy hands were under running water. I was reaching around her trying to gently use a nail brush to clean under her nails; she’d just had another accident and her hands and nails were a mess.
I was completely unprepared for my caregiving journey and set out on choppy waters because I was determined to care for my parents.
I signed up for my caregiving journey quickly. My strong, healthy, WWII-hero Dad had to be taken off an airplane in a wheelchair. He had gotten so sick during the flight the attendants were concerned for his well-being.