There were two older women sitting together across the room from us. One lady, we overheard, was 95 years old…her friend appeared to be a few years younger. After we had been in the packed ER waiting room for a couple of hours, the younger lady told the older one that she needed to leave to be sure someone was okay and that he had eaten supper….that she would be back. And…she left.
The older lady had been happily sitting there alone for about an hour when the doctor came out to visit with her. When he asked what brought her to the emergency room, she said she had no idea this was an emergency room and asked why he wanted to know. He patiently explained that she must have come to the ER because she didn’t feel well, that she was the patient and he needed to know how he could help her. Her response was, “I’m the PATIENT? Well, that’s news to me.” She proceeded to tell him that her daughter was with her, but she wasn’t sure where she was at that moment…perhaps the restroom. And no, she didn’t know her phone number. Another patient who had been sitting near them told the doctor that it must have been her daughter who had left an hour ago, saying she would be back.
The lady continued sitting there, smiling, visiting with others, waiting for whatever was to come next. When her daughter walked in, the lady was glad to see her. When she didn’t fill her daughter in on what had happened in her absence, one of the other waiting patients did. By this time, it was close to midnight, and the daughter looked exhausted. She explained that she had gone home to check on her 95-year-old father…he needed her too, and she couldn’t be everywhere.
I wondered how many others sitting there understood her role as caregiver. Did I really understand? If her mother was 95, the daughter was probably around 75; when I first saw them, I had assumed they were friends. I remembered the emotional and physical toll caregiving took on me, and I had been 20-25 years younger than she. No doubt, I was honored to do it, wouldn’t trade that time with my parents for anything, but there were many sleepless nights and tears shed along the way. The journey had been long and difficult…exhausting and heart-wrenching. Caregiving at 75? I had no idea.
I don’t know what her diagnosis was, but I do know that caregiving, for whatever reason, is just plain hard. If you know a caregiver, remember to offer encouragement, a meal, a little time alone, a hug or a listening ear. I’ll try to remember too.
Thanks for spending time here, Tracie
“Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up.” Proverbs 12:25
I wrote Dancing Around the Chaos for those who are on the ALZ journey with loved ones…struggling to figure it out and dreading what the next day will bring…but too exhausted and afraid to think beyond the present. It happens to also be a sweet and tender love story that really happened, whose characters are real people. Find it on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2v2paXK
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