Whether it’s my overall ability to adapt or determination to accept what I cannot control, visits to my 93-year-old father-in-law have shifted from stressful and worrisome toward normalcy and calm. This is a more positive perspective than the one I posted last month, or at least that is my intent. Sadness watching him deteriorate in mind and body have evolved into acknowledgement and acceptance of the natural course of life. This new outlook is consoling in terms of my father-in-law’s quality of life as well as my own nervousness about the aging process.
After a lengthy car ride with bridges and tolls, previous visits included tiresome scrambling for supplies, endless errand-running and harried decision-making. With experience, the reaction to stress is maturing into an action-oriented system with home care setup, important papers organized, home delivery services arranged, and lists of essential contacts prepared for emergencies as well as routine matters.
My father-in-law always loved to read but can’t get to the library. With enlargement of the font and a little instruction on how to swipe to turn pages, he was able to read from “The Complete Sherlock Holmes” stored on my Kindle Paperwhite; it was a pleasure to watch. Because of his hearing loss, I bring my laptop and converse through Word. Technology can be wonderful.
Dementia comes and goes. Now the family goes along with the conversation rather than trying to make sense of it, and we address the confusion with compassionate humor. After all, he’s just happy to have company. It’s a better visit now that helps me to accept his situation and my own mortality at the same. If you nurture your health, surround yourself with caring people and plan as best you can, is it really so bad – and isn’t it fortunate in a sense – to have some child-like, quiet time during your senior years?
To wonderful caregivers reading this post, you have my utmost respect and gratitude for all the patience, empathy and endurance you sustain in nurturing the elderly through their periods of vulnerability and frailty, and for your understanding of a family’s emotional struggle during the changeover from apprehension to acclimation, and hopefully, to appreciation of the life cycle as nature intended.