Caregiving doesn't get easier when your loved one goes to a nursing home.
Well. That's not exactly true. The physical labor portion of the job absolutely does lighten. Of course it does. My mom now has a work crew of approximately 40 people in three daily shifts available to support her as she has need. Before there was only me.
But the emotional toll doesn't necessarily ease, in fact, for a time it may increase. There is grief and there's guilt and...more grief. I miss my mom. For all the things we'd lost, I still had the knowledge she was just next door. There was some sort of security left over from childhood just in the fact of her presence.
And, seeing her struggling to adapt to new circumstances is just awful, more for me than for her. My mother, because of her faith, has adapted well. She has never cried, not once. She gets cranky sometimes, but for the most part she is philosophical about where she is in life. This is entirely due to her relationship with the Lord. She talks to Him constantly.
My heart was eased on Mom's behalf yesterday, when I called her on the nursing home's cordless phone, and talked with her for maybe five minutes. She wasn't in a very good mood but was polite to me...and then wanted to hang up. Instead of disconnecting though, she placed the phone in her lap. Without breaking the connection with her, I used my landline and called the nursing home to tell them our conversation was over and that Mom had asked for a diet coke. But they forgot to come to her room, and I didn't break the connection with Mom. I was thus privy to her spoken thoughts and prayers for the next hour.
Here is a partial transcription of her words:
"I'm someplace between 88 and 91 I'd guess (she's 92), and I'm blessed (wracking cough). My worse problem is that I'm old and I need help--but I'm blessed because I have that help. If You have anything You need me to do, Lord Jesus, please guide me...(prolonged coughing). I do thank you for my comfort. I'm dressed in comfortable slacks and long-sleeved top. I hear pleasant music--male sings, pleasant volume. Lord, if You have guidance for me...but I'm not complaining because I'm cared for in reasonable comfort. I have no pain; my main aggravation is sinus drainage (wracking cough) but to top it all off, I have the Lord's presence with me, and Lord Jesus I bow down, guide me to be what You want me to be....I am grateful to feel as well as I do at this age...Over an hour's time I sat and prayed for Mom and recorded her words. In my 4 pages of notes she used the word "blessed" 5 times and the word "grateful" 6 times. She prayed for those who provide her care, and for "my daughter, Linda."
Today when I visited the nursing home, there was a resident with dementia who was hitting, biting, and scratching. "She has bad memories," one of the aides told me. This sweet young lady also talked with me about a research study she'd read that proposed a specific drug to quiet fears in a patient's mind.
I know something that works better than drugs to silence fears and uncertainty. And so does my mom.
She is nearly 93 years old, has lost much of her eyesight, and can't stand without help. She can no longer read, watch TV, or write in her journal. She prefers her recliner to being in groups, and so sometimes she is alone too much, but her confidence in her Lord's abiding presence keeps her from suffering unduly from loneliness.
We are blessed, and I am grateful. 😃