Caregiving: The Reluctant Invasion

My parents married on a five-day furlough during WWII.
Mom and Dad remained passionate about their relationship until their last breaths 60 years later.
They communicated well.
When disagreements arose, they agreed to disagree.
In those instances, Mom often said, "If two people agree all the time, one of them isn't thinking for themselves."

My home was peaceful.
My sister and I respected our parents.
Mom loved like a mama bear protecting her cubs.
She disciplined with strictness, sprinkled with humor.
Dad, a businessman, was known for his firm handshake and a smile so bright his eyes squinted.

My sister and I noticed mental shortcomings.
Dad forgot to pay bills.
Mom's kitchen counter and refrigerator overflowed with spoiling food.
We knew we had to step in.

But how does one begin to take over?
Taking away everything from the people who had given us every opportunity?

Even though my parents died five years ago,
I still can't answer that question.

Images forever branded into my mind:
Dad struggling to stand,
rearing back as though he was going slug the doctor when he heard the diagnosis.
Mom throwing a glass coaster in anger,
leaving a deep dent in the dining room table
where we sat days later as I tried to tiptoe back into conversation about Alzheimer's.
That word which scorched their ears was never spoken again.
The nightmare of the clean out, sorting trash from treasure.
Selling their home while they were still alive.

The takeover.
Crossing the line of respect.
The reluctant invasion caused anguish, stress, and guilt.
Like punches in the gut for them and for me.

The flip side?
Remaining ignorant?
Denying the need to intervene?
I loved my parents too much to let them risk the harm of my negligence.

As a caregiver, you struggle with these same issues.
Be brave.
Remain strong.
Know you make these decisions for your loved one.
Not against them.

Every caregiver who shares their story helps another.
Share yours.

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