She looked around her elderly parents’ bathroom and could tell when her mother had finally given up in the middle of renovations. Drywall was still exposed, the woodwork hadn’t been washed in too long. And they just didn’t have the stamina to tend to these kinds of things any more. Dinah took matters into her own hands.
“What color do you want your bathroom to be?” she asked. Her parents looked at her. “I want to paint your bathroom. What color?”
Neither of her parents had thought about it. “Whatever color you’d like,” both of them finally answered, as if they thought she wouldn’t really come in and work on their bathroom.
“How about a nice pastel yellow?” Her mind was reeling. “And white enamel woodwork. If I can’t find curtains, maybe I’ll make them.”
“I hope I can afford this,” Mom worried.
“It won’t cost much. The bathroom is small.” Dinah knew that her parents could no longer do these kinds of things for themselves. And she was thinking that the changes in the bathroom would create a bright corner and maybe she could just keep going from there. But a small project to start was best. The plan was to clean out the house, get rid of things that her mother wasn’t going to miss, and work a bit at a time to make her parents’ home cozy and comfortable, safe and organized.
Every time she looked into her father’s face, she saw his reliance on her and began to analyze her parents’ needs and how those needs could be best met. Every time she looked at her mother she remembered how much of a fighter Mom had always been and still was as she battled Alzheimer Disease. Dinah had to help her parents any way that she could.
“You can’t put your life on hold for our parents,” her brother advised.
She hadn’t argued with him about it. In theory that might be so, but in reality, who would take care of them if she didn’t? Dean was there when she needed him, but he worked full time and his mother-in-law moved into his home when his father-in-law passed away. His hands and plate were full. Dinah preferred to get a little involved now, utilizing the agencies and resources available to keep her parents independent and safe for as long as possible. And when it was time to change the housing situation, the transition might be easier because she already would be around.
Her parents had always “been there” for Dean and Dinah. And family takes care of family. And love takes care of everything.
She would talk to Dean about helping her prepare the bathroom walls for painting. Then she’d get started creating a bright spot that would expand from there.
Some signs that elderly parents need more support:
· structural damage to the home
· physical danger visible, quality of life threatened
· behavior or personality changes
· signs of scamming or fraud
· medications not taken properly
· substance abuse
· neglecting hygiene
· poor nutrition, malnutrition, dehydration
· hearing problems
· fear in any form
· symptoms of dementia, AD, etc.
· can’t answer simple questions
· major personality changes
· too many pets