We moved, and it was not much fun. It just about killed Wayne to work so hard, even though our son-in-law and his crew did most of the heavy moving. It was still a lot of work emptying and cleaning the two houses.
Trying to fit two houses into one was a chore in itself, but we managed, although it meant getting rid of all my antiques, and packing up my art supplies and storing them for another time, since our new house didn’t have any place for me to do my artwork. It was placed on hold and again I adjusted to the situation at hand. Actually, moving may be a lot of work, but it is wonderful to clean out all the old items that aren’t really needed. My cupboards had never been so clean.
Our portion of the house was split-level and consisted of two bedrooms and an office that was reached by climbing five stairs. The living room and kitchen were on the main level and Mother was downstairs in the family room, now transformed into her living room. With the bedroom, laundry room, and bath downstairs, she was perfectly comfortable. Of course, she had to climb nine stairs to reach our portion of the house, which was almost more than her heart could take. She loved living with us, so for a while she climbed the stairs. However, that didn’t last long; her heart bothered her too much.
We learned that stairs were not appropriate for a heart patient or a person on dialysis. I knew that, sooner or later, Wayne would have problems with the stairs, and Mother already did, I was right. Wayne began to have problems after living in the house for three years. His legs grew weak and he had trouble mounting the stairs to the bathroom and bedrooms. This was only the beginning of his problems.
I learned enough from the three family members we had cared for to understand my mom when she moved in with us. We were honest with each other. If we were upset, we talked it out. I tried to take her out of the house at least three times a week. I encouraged her to invite friends over and to attend church and all its functions. This kept her happy and in touch with the outside world. As she became unable to get around much due to angina, I took her places in the wheelchair. She hated the wheelchair, but he loved to shop and spend money. I didn’t want to make the same mistakes with her that I had made with my mother-in-law. Mom was a big help to me in preparing meals. Even though she couldn’t mount the stairs, I brought her vegetables to clean, salad to make and beans to snap. She felt a part of the family, even though she wasn’t upstairs with us. When Wayne was gone, we went out to lunch together or shopping . And I always took her too the beauty parlor on Saturday to have her hair done, sometimes even a manicure. We had fun together and it kept her active. She kept a positive attitude and so did I.
One of the problems of grown children who care for their parents is underestimating the intelligence of people at an advanced age. The notion that older people lose mental abilities with the deterioration of the body is simply not true.
I have to admit I was somewhat condescending at first to my mom and my mother-in-law, the two women I cared for, but I quickly learned to correct that attitude. Of immense help to me was the Curriculum Module on the Aging Process, a study made possible by funding from the University of California.
I have excerpted sections of the report prepared by Andrew E. Scharlach and Barrie Robinson and reproduced them here under heading that are mine. I think you, the reader, will find that your conceptions of aging change as you take in the facts presented.