For as long as I can remember, my mother has always been able to take care of herself. When I was younger and she was sick, she would still put my needs before hers. She has nursed me back to health after numerous surgeries, gave me a shoulder to cry on after my divorce, and held my hand through many transitions in my life. She raised me alone as a single mother and she worked two jobs. She always took care of me.
I’m afraid that I am beginning to see signs of my mother’s old age beginning to appear. She has become so forgetful that I often have to remind her to eat meals, take her medication, and drink water. I’m a full time nurse, so I don’t get to check on her as often as I’d like, although I speak to her on the phone twice a day and make sure the neighbors are always dropping in on her with surprise visits.
Just last week, my mother had a terrible fall. She fell down her front steps after slipping on a patch of ice trying to get her mail at the end of the driveway. Luckily, someone was walking their dog nearby and saw her fall and was able to get her medical attention right way. She still wound up with a broken rib, a shattered hip, and three broken fingers.
The doctors tell us that we got lucky this time, and that he sees falls a lot worse than this with much ore fatal consequences. He provided my mom with the information and prescriptions that she would need for recovery, but asked to speak to me alone at the end of the appointment. He told me that my mom was going to need constant care. He said that she couldn’t be left alone, and that I was going to have to make arrangements for her to have around-the-clock supervision.
He also told me something that worried me even more than the physical injuries that my mother had sustained. He notified me that during the routine psychological evaluation, a doctor diagnoses my mother with depression. He said that since my father passed away over a decade ago, my mother has not found proper ways to deal with her grief, and in turn she has been left with depression in her later years.
I was shocked to learn that I had not noticed her symptoms of depression, but the doctor informed me that it is not too late to get her help. At the end of our discussion, he suggested that I look into different forms of mental health clinics that also provide behavioral assisted living accommodations. I’ve always been severely against the idea of putting my mom in a “home,” and I feel like I owe it to her to take care of her at the end of her life as she did for me at the start of mine.
I need help. What can I do?
Mental health clinic
Dear “Lost Daughter,”
The notions surrounding the stigma attached to putting our ageing parents in a “home,” has become largely built around outdated information and misinformed opinions. Not many are lucky enough to make it far enough in life where most of the past seems like a distant memory. Growing old means seeing those you hold close pass on to the stage of life after death, getting sick, and sometimes losing the ability to take care of oneself.
Often many individuals will refuse to be moved to an assisted living facility when they age because they feel as though something is being taken away from them. They feel they should have the right to being free to do and go where they please, but unfortunately a time comes where they can no longer move freely and act of their own will without putting their life in danger.
We often are wary of even the idea of suggesting our elder parent move into an in-patient treatment center for those who have reached a certain age. We are scared they will resent us for it, and we do not want to be ungrateful for all of the years of their life they gave to taking care of us. There is a point where it becomes a burden on the child to look after their parent non-stop, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Mental health practitioner
When an individual is showing negative symptoms of ageing that are dangerous to their mental and physical health, it may be time for them to be put in an assisted behavior center where they can get the care that is best for them. It sounds like your mothers depression is something that should be watched closely and be constantly evaluated by a mental health practitioner.
While your nursing skills may come in handy for dealing with the physical issues your mother may experience, you are not trained properly to deal and treat her depression. The only way to insure that your mom is getting the most effective treatment to help her live out her life happier and longer, is to transfer her from her own home into a behavioral assisted living facility.
At facilities like these your mother can not only be constantly monitored, she can make friends, learn new skills, see doctors more regularly, and even find new love. It is natural for humans to hesitate at the thought of putting their loved one in a home, but in the long run it can be for the best. Make sure to discuss the topic in a caring way with your mother.