When the time came for my mother to move into an assisted living facility, I do admit I was looking forward to this next stage when my responsibilities for managing her care could maybe ease a bit, as compared to when she was living independently. Most importantly, I was looking forward to having the peace of mind knowing she would be assisted by qualified caregivers around the clock.
And while some of my duties have been eliminated, their replacements require the same, if not more, of my effort. And my time. And management.
I still manage quarterly visits to her family doctor, and routine dental checkups and eye care, and regular foot care. But now the foot doctor comes to her facility, so I no longer have to take her to his office every eight weeks, and can cross at least one trip for medical services off my list.
I no longer have to make sure she remembered to pay her rent or her utilities. Because now I am responsible for her finances. Paying her monthly bills for her room and her phone and her health insurance…making sure the pharmacy is paid for her monthly meds…making sure the hair stylist gets paid for her monthly hair appointments. And most importantly, making sure she has enough petty cash to play nickel bingo whenever she wants.
I no longer have to make sure she has enough food in her refrigerator or toilet paper or laundry detergent. Now I am simply the purchasing agent and inventory controller of a varied list of personal care items which she requires.
Extra-large fabric bandaids for her feet, but not the kind with the anti-bacterial lotion on them, because they irritate. And some of the regular-sized fabric bandaids too, in case a finger slides along the page of a book we are reading, causing an annoying cut. Toothpaste…any kind will do, but minty flavor, if you please. Always-brand panty liners, the regular size in the purple box, in case we laugh too hard and have a little leak. Ahem.
Bar soap, but only the original Dove brand, as it is gentle to our hands and face. Kleenex, in the super-sized box please, in 2-ply or 3-ply…your choice and we don’t care about the color. Shampoo and hair spray and hand lotion. And don’t forget the nylon knee-highs in a nude color, reinforced toe, please. And oh yeah, a new toothbrush every three months.
I know the day will come when my duties will end. As my mother says, that is the day “the good lord will call her home”. I don’t dwell on that day coming. I know it is simply the cycle of life.
For now, I embrace the moments I have with her. And maintain the rhythm of managing the details for her. Checking off the items on my list as I load up my vehicle to deliver the goods.
New magazines…check. Bandaids, both extra large and regular size…check. Three paperback mystery novels from the Gently Used Book Store in town…check. And oh yeah…the Always-brand panty liners in their bright purple boxes. Ahem.