Welcome to Following the Whispers blog

Thank you so much for taking the time to visit. Hope you enjoy your stay. I blog here whenever I feel the need. This blog was created at the time my memoir came out, in February, 2009. Its motto was: creating a life of inner peace and self-acceptance from the depths of despair. Now, my focus is sharing this journey we call life.

“Only one thing is more frightening than speaking your truth, and that is not speaking it.” Naomi Wolf

“We are called human beings, not human doings.” Wes Nisker, Buddhist teacher

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs…(And) if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.” Theodore Roosevelt

Friday, September 10, 2010

Helping versus intruding versus taking over

When an elder person in your life begins to decline there are many many issues to be dealt with and decisions to be made. If you're lucky, this can be done gradually so that both you and the elder have time to adjust to the role changes.

With my friend, MA, the changes have come on quite suddenly and neither one of us had time to to prepare. All of a sudden, this meticulous housekeeper has papers strewn all over her den, dust covers the furniture, dishes sit in the sink. When before MA retained pertinent details for not just days, but years, now she is confused about what day it is, what and when her appointments are.

This is the beginning of a descent. I have been here before - with my father, with my mother-in-law, and with my friend's mother. So, we begin the process together. First, I must ask her if she wants me to take on this role of caregiver? Does she trust me with helping her make decisions and changes? The answer is yes.

Next, we must gather information. How much money is there. Is there enough for her needs and for her disabled daughter's needs? If not, what do we do?

Can MA stay living independently? Is she safe? Is she taking proper care of herself, i.e. taking medications appropriately? If not, where will she go? Or will we get help coming in?

All of my friends have seen me in this role with the above-mentioned people. They all want me as their advocate when they get to this stage. It's a nice compliment. I can honestly say I am a gift when it comes to this particular issue.

My lesson in all of this. I am trying to use these experiences to help me understand what is going to happen to me--to all of us, actually--when we get to be elders. And I am hoping this experience will help me accept it more gracefully so that I don't resist the changes too darn much.

Thank you all for the kind wishes as I take on this additional role at this point in my life.



Glynis said...

You have a giving heart Karen. Your friend is in the best hands. They will love and support her as she needs this from now on by the sounds of things.
How do I know this about you? In your book your caring, supportive role shone through. Regardless of the knockbacks, you still gave to others. I wish you a strong spirit and mind for the task ahead.♥

I am preparing a dying friend's wedding. She asked for me to carry out this task. When I asked why me? She said, because you remember the little things.I thought about it, and she is right, I have a handbag full of pins, plasters and pantyliners. LOL

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Since I am dealing with similiar issues with my mother, I understand the challenging task before you. You want that person to be safe, but you can't rush. You can't tell her what to do, only plant the seeds so that it will eventually become her decision not yours. Believe me, that's been the toughest thing I've dealt with so far!

Jules said...

I applaud you my friend. This is a most worthy journey you are on for both her and you. I go through this daily with my 91-year old grandmother, at times it is just heart breaking and others we laugh like yesterday.

I wish you the best and will say a little prayer for you both. :)
Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

Karen, your family is very fortunate to have such a caring person around them!

I think you're so right...these challenging and heartbreaking times can be used as a lesson to show us how best to help our families if we find ourselves in the same position later.

Keeping you in my prayers...

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Perhaps that is your gift, Karen.

Mason Canyon said...

Keeping you in my thoughts and prayers. This is a difficult and painful time. We are facing something similar with a family member and it breaks my heart to see the change and no there is little or nothing one can do but be there for them and take care of them.

Thoughts in Progress

Karen Walker said...

Glynis, the little things are so very important.And what an honor to be asked to do such a special thing.
Diane, my heart goes out to you and your mom. Just keep breathing and don't forget to take care of you while taking care of her.
Jules, laughing like yesterday is such a great phrase. Thank you.
elizabeth, thanks for the prayers.
Alex, hmmm. Yes, I think it is a gift.Thank you.

Cyndi said...

Hi Karen, I'm so sorry about your friend. Thinking of you both...

Anonymous said...

You've thought about why these people keep coming into your life; have you thought about writing a book about it?

Sharon Lippincott said...

What a blessing to be such a blessing. Just remember though -- resistance in a case like hers may not portend how things will be for you. She doesn't have all her faculties.

Linda Austin said...

Mmmhmm, I well know how this story goes. My mother with Alzheimers and my new friends in the nursing home have blessed and enriched my life and taught me many lessons. Strength, patience, and blessings to you and your friend.

Tabitha Bird said...

You are an amazing woman Karen :)

Thank you for your congrats on my blog :)

Jemi Fraser said...

It's a delicate balance - one I'm sure you'll manage with your usual grace. Take care of yourself too.

Rayna M. Iyer said...

It is tough taking these decisions. It is tougher still when such decisions get taken out of your hands :-(
People who know you are lucky to have you, Karen