I wish I could say, “April Fools, my mom really didn’t die, she was just recovering from a face-lift!” However, it would be a bad, sadistic, April Fool’s Day joke to play on anyone. Instead I could just share my brother Joel’s favorite one: waking up early before the rest of the household, exchanging the contents of the salt shaker and sugar bowl on the breakfast table. He then waits for us to all come down for breakfast and he turns into the ‘Exorcist’, projecting chocolate milk through his nose because of the hilarity of the surprised look on our face…happy April! Joelie, also had another favorite whether he used on April 1st or not I am not sure, but he would exchange the powdered Nestle Quick™ with powdered Exlax™ and when his roommates in college wanted hot cocoa that just had a little bit more!
“If life is must not be taken so seriously – then so neither must death.”
~ Samuel Butler
I share the above with you because I would love to have my mother back with me today as I know many of you would love to have your loved with you as well. However, death is not a joke, it’s part of the circle of life and we need to embrace it. In fact, it’s even ‘OK’ to make it humorous. Humor allows us to look beyond and remember the good times. When we gather together to honor, memorialize, or eulogize a person we share the best parts of their life. Those best parts are often the words they used that made us smile, laugh, and brought humor into our lives whether it was April Fool’s Day or not.
Mom & Dad brought love and humor to life!
“I’m not afraid to die. I just don’t want to be there when it happens.” ~ Woody Allen
The truth is my mother has not been recovering from a face-lift, in fact at 96 ½ years young she did not look her years and she was not vain enough to have one. The fact of the matter is that mom died. However, in death she has offered life to many. I have learned so much since her stroke and I am realizing that she provided me with a gift that may help others. Healthcare for seniors is a JOKE, even for the wealthy. Families assume that nursing homes, assisted living facilities, independent senior living, and home-care is equally trained, overseen, and CAPABLE! The reality is this is false.
Healthcare providers are often the lowest paid on the healthcare ladder. Many are paid under the table, meaning no taxes are taken out and they are paid even less. Some of these providers have no training as well as no communication skills with the elderly or the family members. On the opposite side of the spectrum you have compassionate skilled providers who care for the elderly because they love their work and see the senior as their parent or grandparent and everything they do for them is with TLC. I shared with my readers in previous blogs and I will repeat it here, my mother had some excellent women taking care of her, loving her, my brother, niece, cousin and me. At no time, did we have to ask for the compassion or question their reason for being with my mom. However, the night shift was questionable. We went from excellent to I wouldn’t trust them with my Raggedy Ann Doll©, they might kill it! This is no Joke, no laughing matter and why we need to step up and make changes!
“Sometimes You Just Must Laugh” ~ Karen
Picture this, I am living in my mother’s one bedroom apartment, sleeping on the couch in the living room night after night. On this particular night, we had a new caregiver identified to be one of the best from the agency. I had noted earlier in the night that I was in doubt with their assessment. She arrived late, and was not interactive with my mom. That evening my mother was very restless and I also had an intense migraine, so I was not having difficulty helping mom. After the care provider settled in I went and laid down on the couch to nurse my headache. I assumed the murmurs I was hearing through my pounding brain was the caregiver taking care of mom.
It was a couple of hours of trying to get relief that I finally got up to see why mom was still restless only to notice this “one of the best” caregivers, snuggled up under my mother’s hospital bed sleeping. The adrenaline in my body broke my migraine I called the service, fired the young woman and cared for my mother until the day provider arrived. As a side note this is note the first night shift person that chose to sleep on the job. Not just nod off, but prepare for sleep whether on the floor, the extra bed or on the chair. My mother was not able to care for herself and we were paying for the services of healthcare personnel to keep her safe and take care of her needs during a 12-hour rotation.
I must give a shout out to JCARE at Jewish Senior Life in Detroit. Everyone of their staff treated my mother with the utmost respect and care. I did make some changes in personnel, not because they were not good or qualified but because other staff members fit the profile with my mother better. JCARE is not staffed to provide 24-hour care and therefore we relied on other services for the night shift, what we learned about this industry, the demands on both sides is not a JOKE but it’s killing our elder population! (figuratively)
None of us know where our paths will lead and if we will need senior/elder care or not. If your parent or loved one is need you must be proactively involved and know it becomes a full-time job. Expect your mom or dad, spouse or sibling to become agitated. No one wants to become dependent on others providing their personal care, and administering to them for the duration of their life. Doctors and therapists may tell you that your loved one is not aware but believe me, they don’t know everything. My mother may not have been aware all the time but there were times she knew that her personal care including changing a brief and what a brief really was. On a couple occasions, she even said, “I don’t need that give me my underwear.” It’s important to learn your loved one’s language and answer to their needs and their caregivers follow your direction. You must become a team and you must lead it.
“Don’t live with regrets, sadness…smile, and joke and laugh through the day.”
This morning as I write this and look out the gray gloomy skies this is my mother (and father’s) way of telling me, HA-HA, you though it was going to be warm and sunny, think again ~ Jokes on You!
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