Just keep on trying to be good and to be patient, that seems to be the daily mantra and hopefully if we repeat it enough we might manage to keep things on a relatively even keel. It really is difficult especially when you feel permanently on edge in the presence of the AP. It is not a good plan to analyse these feelings but sometimes you have to try to understand what is happening. The AP is not a bad person and for some of the time she does try hard to be a nice rather dotty old lady but unfortunately the halo slips and nasty little asides come out. These are often said to others sometimes in front of us but more often behind our backs. She has also become hyper-critical. Comments about awful hair styles, unattractive voices or peoples shapes – ‘hasn’t so and so put on weight’ is always a favourite and is inevitably a sly dig at me. No, I am not paranoid but the last three years of being told what I should do about my weight has made me very, very wary.
I do need to lose weight but I cannot face cooking and eating separate meals. I also cannot let her see me do it as AP then wants the same. AP cannot afford any weight loss and would become ill if she ate less than she already does. It is important for all of us that she remains as active and as fit as possible for as long as possible. The regime she has with us has definitely done her good but my inactivity and loss of motivation has increased my weight and created other problems that are directly stress related. There is nothing easy about taking on the care of an elderly parent no matter how fit they may be. AP is remarkably well for her age even if a little doddery but some parts of her personality have gone only to expose the less attractive sides to her nature.
At the moment she has a colleague from her working days staying here with us, they are sitting in the spider infested summerhouse – desperate days. The summerhouse is a lovely space but desperately needs a good clean out, unfortunately my husbands illness this year has put that along with other jobs, on hold. It’s a great place to sit in the evenings especially when enjoying a glass or two of wine.
This wonderful foggy picture illustrates perfectly how hard it is to literally lose ones way.
Another week passes by and this time it has been relatively peaceful. Only a few snipes from the Ageing Person (from now on to be referred to as AP) to break the calm. The worst was the incident of the mislaid sunglasses. We all do this so no drama you would think but no, in this case serious accusations are made that the long suffering husband has deliberately moved them. He actually found them for her where she had left them on the table next to where she sits. Apparently she had looked there and couldn’t see them! That could be a result of poor sight owing to ARMD but AP was absolutely insistent that he had hidden them from her. Although trivial such unreasonable statements cause harm and add to the feeling of being continually besieged and trapped.
We need to challenge our own reactions to these situations which are really of no consequence but they can and do grow out of proportion. We are in danger of disliking this person who lives in our space.
Fortunately we have a busy time ahead and in the midst of this an old colleague of AP’s is coming to stay for a few days which should stem the sniping for a little while at least and also allow us to find a mental space to repair and order our thoughts and feelings.
I must also look at how I can become motivated about losing some weight. It’s so easy to know what to do but an entirely different kettle of fish to do it!
Growing around an old apple tree in the orchard are these wonderful wild blackberries. They have made the most luscious jam which just begged for fresh homemade buttermilk scones and of course, clotted cream. I decided to make some despite the comment that would follow……..and it did.
My mother just cannot resist it and sure enough having thoroughly enjoyed the scone with jam and cream came the inevitable comment, “well these will put weight on”. the scones are tiny and featherlight and yes, if you ate a few with jam and clotted cream they certainly wouldn’t help a weight loss. I think the only answer is to live on dust!
But I cannot let this get me down. I have always gained so much pleasure from cooking and living here in the country I have a wonderful selection of produce to choose from especially during these summer months when we are surrounded by an abundance of good things. Unfortunately at the moment I cook when I am bored and being so trapped I am bored a great deal. In the beginning it was ok and life carried on to a point but as the months have passed we are being ground down with the sheer relentlessness of the timetable we now have to follow.
A song from Pink Floyd The Wall (1979). That was the year our son was born and it all seems such a long time ago, another world, another lifetime. Even photographs of us then look like different people, it’s uncanny and a bit spooky. Did we really change so much?
I have come to the conclusion that as we grow older our lives divide and alter. The years the children were small passed in a blur as we were so busy but now I find myself wishing the time away which was something I vowed never to do. When I woke up to my 50th birthday I was struck by the realisation that I had probably lived longer than I had left. In the beginning the first 7 years of retirement were a joy but that changed with the arrival of my mother. It was not supposed to be like this and now 21 years on from that turning 50 revelation I need to look carefully at everything and find a way of coping with the frustration of having no freedom, no peace of mind, no personal space and little relief from this relentless misery that life is becoming. If I don’t sort out my weight problem I doubt I will live to 99 years of age so I need to make some life changing decisions soon.
It is impossible to talk to my mother to try and discuss a situation, she doesn’t seem to know how to listen, gets everything wrong and talks over us. She will never admit she is wrong and spends her time asking inane questions about nothing relevant. If she doesn’t know something she makes up something to fill the space. She has become self centred, rude and graceless with us but will gush embarrassingly over visitors, trying to play the dear sweet little old lady. This is so hypocritical that we feel revolted by the charade. I keep making a mental note to not become like this but maybe if we were to live to such a grand age we would also be the same.
It would be easier if my mother was not so aggressive and defensive. Her presence is that of a spectre and both my husband and I are becoming resentful of this rather unpleasant person living in our home. Her ‘I know’ attitude is a pain especially when she blatantly doesn’t know.
If anybody out there has any viable solutions I would love to hear them.
Well a week on and various attempts to try harder have failed miserably; not failed because anything was arranged badly just unforeseen situations that have caused some distress. Still I decided that I must persevere with lightening the atmosphere despite being under the weather and on antibiotics. It was a little like a suicide mission! I am now accused of speaking a different language to my difficult ageing parent who being deaf often gets things wrong and that was the result of an attempt to have a conversation.
Yesterday she has decided that vanity to the fore, (denied of course) that she needs to lose weight and that means smaller meals. I should add at this point that she is not even vaguely fat, that territory is mine and mine alone. My weight also causes problems because she is not allowed to talk about it but constantly finds sneaky ways of mentioning it. I am quite aware that I have a weight problem and part of that is caused by the stress of looking after her but that is another issue to be discussed later. Her meals are already small but apparently these cause bloat. I explained that it would be better to look at food content as that is more likely to cause bloat than the small quantities consumed. I was told that was nonsense. Unsuspecting and long suffering husband comes into the conversation by agreeing that food is usually the culprit. The response to this was an astonishing attack that “she was not going to speak to him as he always sides with her.” I mention the small quantity of carefully considered meals prepared at home that over the last 3 years have helped to keep her fit, well and active and now pre-diabetic and not diabetic because when we go out the meal of choice is nearly always fish in batter with chips. This doesn’t apparently cause bloat or put weight on. The conversation did not end well.
Well the atmosphere is not at all lightened and I am trying hard not to wish my life away.
My special space, little used at the moment but in the spirit of this post’s title ……….soon.Having had one good day and then one bad day since my last post I decided my new mantra must be to try harder despite feelings of frustration and at times anger. Emotionally life with a 99 year old is like riding a roller coaster. It was apparently suggested, not to me I may add, that my lovely garden studio could be an ironing room with the board left up permanently. My mother bought me this lovely shed some years ago as a present and before she came to live with us I had time to paint, a much loved hobby but since her arrival and the demands made upon us I haven’t had the time to make use of my special space. Unfortunately the shrinking of our horizons to those of hers over the three years have taken their toll and I feel little inclination to even try now. My husband struggles as well to find enthusiasm to do things. We have discussed this and recognise that the problem is ours but we are unable to find a working solution at the moment. If my mother even suggested we go out on our own it might help but all we get is the royal ‘we’ and there is no suggestion or thought that we might like to go out alone. When we have said we are going out on our own (twice in three years) we are made to feel guilty which rather takes the edge of any enjoyment. I know we must stop being wimps about this but we also can’t just go out now for any length of time without leaving someone with her, any semblance of common sense seems to have flown out the window. Although still fairly mobile she is partially sighted, deaf and becoming increasingly frail. My mother, at 99 years of age, will not accept her limitations which is admirable in some ways but can result in real danger in other ways.
We are fortunate to be able to arrange for her to spend an occasional day with a friend although this cannot be spontaneous. But in the spirit of ‘trying harder’ I must arrange more of these in the future. The next month is a busy one with lots of visitors and the grandchildren staying so much bed changing and meals to be cooked. I will have little time to moan about our shrinking horizons which has to be an improvement.
Perhaps we are at fault. We don’t understand this person living with us who has developed an intermittent butterfly brain which along with an inherent stubbornness makes life for us very hard at times. Just explaining the simplest of facts becomes a minefield that can often end up with a screwed up face and a refusal to grasp even the simplest of situations. I have no doubt that this is a universal problem with the elderly who revert to childish behaviour at the first sign of anything they don’t want to understand. Listening has definitely become a problem and any explanations are talked over so no understanding can be reached or we just don’t listen and look blank. I have discovered that the best defence for me is in silence initially then to change the subject to a more comfortable one.
Today has been a particularly trying one with us being told among other things how to deal with our dogs! We have also been accused of not giving her information, information that was patiently given to her the day before. Maybe the wind is bothering her or could it be the approaching storm. It is particularly frustrating when on phone calls to others mother is coherent and bright; conversations are punctuated with my daughter and son-in-law are lovely, followed by a pause and then ‘really’ which rather begs the question. I think I have already said in a previous blog that short term everything is hunky-dory but the real long term situation is very different. My poor long suffering husband seldom is thanked for his efforts even though every morning he runs the gamut of the hairnet to take her a cup of tea!