“I feel the capacity to care is the thing which gives life its deepest significance.” – Pablo Casals

I moved my widowed mother to Charlottesville in 2007 when she was 92.  Now at age 96+ she is in assisted living at a local retirement community and still feisty but not mobile.  Dispersing her possessions and selling the house in New England where she had lived for 60 years was a herculean but not impossible task.  In retrospect, there was a blur of movers, furniture lay-outs, an airline flight—lots of planning.   I was a little too triumphant that I’d been able to orchestrate the event –the first thing that she did when she arrived in Charlottesville was fall—breaking her wrist and her jaw.

Finally, after a week in the hospital and 2 months in a nursing home, she moved into her apartment.   She coped, and so did I.  One night she called to say that she’d fallen and couldn’t get up.  “Press that button you have around your neck & I’ll be right there.”  By the time I did get there (a 16 minute-drive), she was in her chair as if nothing had happened.  One benefit to having her here has been that far-away friends and relatives—even my cousin from Russia has come to visit—much to mother’s annoyance and anxiety.  (She’s not particularly fond of people).

After 3 years in her apartment, she fell again—not because she tripped, but because she was weak.  Again, from the hospital to the nursing home and now to assisted living, where she has been for the past year.  She has a room only, gets 3 meals a day and help getting in and out of bed.  She also has a boyfriend.

I’m not the only baby-boomer who has these issues.  I recommend “A Bittersweet season, Caring for our Aging Parents and Ourselves” by Jane Gross.  Especially the description of her mother:   ‘‘until the bitter end, my mother remained frugal, contrarian, clever and antisocial,” resonates.

Another similar recommendation:  My Mother, Your Mother: Embracing “Slow Medicine,” – the Compassionate Approach to Caring for Your Aging Loved Ones by Dennis Mccullough.

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