As a professional in the field of aging, Sara had seen it all—until her own mother broke her hip at the age of 88 and became profoundly confused, unable to live in her own home. Join Sara on her journey through the strangeness that is dementia while trying to make sense of it all and finding humor in the details. [Editor's note: Sara no longer contributes to Silver Planet, but we have made her archived blog entries available as a service to our readers.]
I want to thank you, Tricia, for your comment to my November 9 post, Going Shopping with Mom. I loved the part about your mom (who I assume was fairly advanced in age) looking in the mirror saying, “If I could only get this stomach down, they would fit.” My mom said exactly the same thing until she was about 80.
Tricia’s post reminded me of one of the ongoing “rubs” I have with my mom’s assisted living: how they treat her clothing.
Reorganizing the dresser drawers is now a regular part of my visits to Mom. It didn’t start out that way; but this year, when spring turned to summer, I went through my mom’s drawers to see if she needed more lightweight clothing and if I needed to store some of her warmer things at my house.
What a mess! Nothing was properly folded. Nothing was in order. The tops and pants were rolled up together and the nice cotton tops were rolled in a drawer, along with someone else’s clothes that weren’t even her size, not even close. All the nice pants, where were they? And the expensive thermal tops, where were they? I was really pissed.
Then I came across the beautiful, expensive, pink wool sweater. The staff had washed it and put it into the dryer, a very hot dryer. It was now a girl’s size 6.
Part of the emotional package that accompanied my choice to move my mother into Gaffney House included shopping for clothes for her. After living 60 years in Phoenix, Mom’s winter wardrobe included a couple of light sweaters and a raincoat purchased years ago. I had to buy lots of warm clothes for her new life in Seattle; so, that’s what I did, and I bought quality items, no junk. To see all her nice things treated so poorly. . . .
I told myself, take a deep breath and get over it. It was a bad idea to include any item of clothing that could not be easily washed and dried. It was a bad idea to include any item of clothing to which I attached any sentimental value. So what if other resident’s clothing got into her drawers. Finally, what would make me think that a beautiful, dry clean–only wool sweater was a good idea?
I still refold my Mom’s clothes every time I visit. I put the warm underclothing in the top drawer, along with the socks. I fold the tops as they should be folded and put them all in the second level and fold each pair of slacks, making sure each has a nice crease. I just bought some new warm nightgowns that will replace the lighter weight ones. They will go on the left. Everything will be in order, until the next visit.
I decided that folding the clothes nicely and putting the dresser drawers in order is my job. It’s my contribution to the effort. We have to work as a team. The staff provide loving care, I fold the clothes.
By Sara Myers
A Good Enough Daughter Blog