Lisa and I took Mom to buy some new shoes today. Funny how this works…the sales lady puts on a pair that may fit. Mom says, “Perfect. I’ll take them!” Everybody else says, “Whoa there, Mom; how about walking around in them first?” She does, and most of the time comes back with a complaint. We’ve been through this before, anticipate it now, and are never disappointed. Anyway, we finally got her two good pair of shoes. She is, of course, delighted.
After that, we went to the best pizza joint in town, Mario’s, and had an anchovy pizza that couldn’t be beat. Mom and I are weird that way. Lisa had a calzone, and would scarcely breathe in the car afterward. Thinking about it now, I recall that she cracked her window open…
On the way back, Mom announced that she’d be leaving Piedmont Place tomorrow morning to accompany a member of a former/recent church to visit and help a 92-year old woman she doesn’t know. What kind of responsible person would take Mom from her safe environment to help? If that seems uncharitable, I’d remind you that Mom is 79! I protested softly (remember: Mom wants to be the adult again), and Lisa seethed.
As Lisa and I left Mom’s room, our discussion came strongly to the point that Mom was saying ‘yes’ to anyone’s request, that this fits – classically – the definition of “vulnerable adult,” and that I have to intervene. And so I did. I informed the Piedmont Place staff that tomorrow’s visit was not to result in Mom’s leaving the facility, and I called Mom to explain why. She didn’t understand, and felt that she had made a hard commitment but wouldn’t do it again. I told her I’d break that commitment for her.
I did all this with a loving but forward tone. Lisa asked me later how Mom responded. I said she didn’t have a strong response; that she simply seemed vulnerable. She was being pulled one way by one person and another way by me. She must be asking herself: “Who’s right? Who’s wrong? What do I really want?” Confusion.
Mom seems so lucid so often that it’s easy to think of her as her old self, and to take her at her word. More and more, I call to remembrance the facts that she has Parkinson’s and dementia. She can want to be the parent, and I can want that for her, too. But, while I want her to exercise her new-found freedoms, I have to keep watch for her well-being.
It’s a really hard fence to straddle. I guess that’s what I signed up for.