Taking Care of an Elderly Parent

    October 2010            
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When Lightning Strikes…schluff!

By Wendy Reichental

My elderly mother is staying with my husband and me for a period of time while she recovers and recuperates from a brief stay in hospital. We had to bring up the dreaded topic of her considering trying a residence and to sweeten the deal; I reiterated that there are even some senior residences that let you stay for short visits so you can sample the place without committing to it. In other words it’s essentially like going to a hotel and to convince her further, I told her it would be like the Saxony Hotel which she used to love going to in Miami, with all your meals, entertainment and services included. My spiel fell on deaf (toyb) ears, literally, my mom doesn’t hear nor wants to wear a hearing aid, so you have to repeat your words, sentences, and phrases numerous times in different ways to get heard and absorbed. And even then with this sensitive topic, it’s like taking your dog to the vet; they somehow intrinsically know and start exhibiting nervous habits and anxiety.

But no matter, I had booked an appointment earlier in the week to see a place a short distance from where my husband and I live, with a great reputation, a homey and hamish facility with all the necessary bells and whistles that would only enhance my mother’s welfare. As per usual, the morning of the day we were to take her, she got ready on her own terms, which meant moving at a speed too slow (pamelech) to record. By the time she was ready, ominous clouds gave way and we were forced to take her out in a torrential downpour! With lightning bolts and thunder booms escorting us this certainly wasn’t the electricity of possitivity my mother and I much-needed and had in mind.

I had confessed to the sympathetic residence director on the phone that I have taken my mother to see other senior care facilities and when she sees a senior with a walker, cane (shtekn), or one sleeping in an armchair in the main lobby she heads straight for the door! So I joked and asked that should there be anyone asleep in a rocking chair in the main lobby to please throw a decorative blanket over them so my mother doesn’t notice. She laughed and assured me the place is filled with active seniors.

Luckily for us the rain had tapered off but echoes of thunder could still be heard. I opened the lovely wooden doors with huge gold handles and we were welcomed by pitch darkness! The storm had apparently caused a power failure. My worst nightmare had come true. I put on my best sunny disposition and presented our names at the front desk. We were told to have a seat in one of their many cozy waiting rooms. So, being that everything looked dark (fintster) we took my mother to the only room which had natural light, an inviting solarium, with sounds of chirping canaries delightfully emanating from the room. We made our entrance and witnessed a sleeping (fa-shluffen) slumped body on nearly every available armrest! Only the birds were awake! I could already see my mother’s agitation and before I could escort her out of there, she had already indicated that we come back another time.

Back at home, we all settled into our usual routines, my husband escaped his frustrations catching up on some TV watching, me I sat with my laptop to write this story, and my mother, well she continued her kvetching of wanting nothing to do with a senior’s home when she has all the luxuries she needs right here. I let her talk until there was silence and noticed that just like those other senior’s which she steadfastly denied being anything like…she was actively and blissfully already schluffing!


from the October 2010 Edition of the Jewish Magazine

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