It seems to me that each and every one of us has made the statement that it is difficult to see changes in someone who you see on a regular basis, but when you haven’t seem someone for a long time you can recognize change instantly. Often these statements refer to little ones, who change very quickly as they grow and develop. However, as my caregiving of elderly people increases, I realize that the same holds true with elderly people as their aging accelerates.
During this winter, Annie Oakley has changed in a number of ways. The most notable change is the amount of time she spends “resting, not sleeping”, with the “resting” out doing the time spent truly awake probably 2 to 1, during what we usually think of as the active part of the day. Mind you, Annie spends many of her days on a recliner, snuggled under a blanket, and in the dark. While her living room sports a large window overlooking the ocean, she prefers to be in the dark. When I open the drapes and blinds so she can see out, she will tell me that the light hurts her eyes, but then she will spend some time outside in the sunlight and turn down my offers to get her sunglasses for her. In addition, Annie’s interest in making her own dinner has lessened considerably, which is quite surprising given her ability to continue to cook her own meals has given her major bragging rights for many year now. But, of course, when we offer to look into meal providers, she’ll have none of that because she is perfectly capable to prepare her own meals, and the next thing we know is that she is asking if we would like her to take us for dinner.
Now, looking back over what I’ve just written, to avoid repeating myself, I see I haven’t yet mentioned Annie’s loss of hearing, but with a golden lining. You see, a very long time ago Annie purchased 2 Sony radios, undoubtedly on sale. My husband figures that she’s owned these radios for 20 or 30 years. During that time, the clarity of reception has declined considerably, and when Annie would try to tune in her favourite radio station only fuzz would fill the air. Apparently to make up for the poor reception, Annie would have to turn up the volume, thereby accomplishing nothing but causing the fuzziness to become terribly loud. I am someone who is driven way more crazy than usual by unclear sound, and with my home office directly up the stair from Annie’s living room where the radio lives, on many a day I was extremely tempted to stomp down the steps, fling open Annie’s living room door, and wield either a baseball bat or axe to put both me and the radio out of our misery. Instead, I engaged Annie in many conversations about her diminishing ability to hear resulting in her turning up the volume, which I wouldn’t mind so much if she would listen to a radio station that came in clearly. I am happy to report that, at least for now, Annie has chosen to listen to a local public broadcasting radio station, which is quite palatable, indeed! Thank you, CBC.
Oh dear, as I look back over what I have written, I see that I’ve gotten off track at least somewhat, so let me get back to the subject matter, before I draw my conclusion to this blog post. Still another change in Annie is the tiny circle in which she exists. Basically, her area of awareness is maybe 10 feet in any direction from her person. This really is quite intriguing for me, perhaps because I am experiencing some vision issues at this time. I must acknowledge here that Annie had become blind in one eye, a condition which I think exacerbates this situation. And, allow me to mention one more change about which many people have mentioned to us, which is the incessant repetition of statements. For a long time and in fact as long as I’ve known her, Annie was in this habit, I think because she quite simply likes to talk, and apparently enjoys the sound of her own voice. But the situation has become so extreme that it is at once tragic and hilarious. Given my family of origin and our love of various forms of humour, I am amazingly tempted to turn our conversations into comedy skits, but then consider the reaction of my man should I begin making fun of his mother.
Now, back to the matter at hand, it has been very interesting to me to note these recent changes in Annie, which cannot be missed by anyone who has known her for even just a few years. Without a doubt, everyone easily identifies said changes, although some people choose to try to ignore how quickly things are changing for Annie. For a few years now, as spring has sprung and the daylight hours have increased dramatically, Annie would spring back to life. I, for one, have my doubt that the effect of the change in seasons will awaken Annie as much as has been the case for the past several years. But, whatever the case, I hope that Annie either doesn’t see her own change, or that she can come to terms with the current form of herself, and can enjoy puttering around the lawn and garden to the extent that she can, without losing her balance and causing herself damage and pain. And, I hope the spring and summer seasons treat her well.
Yours in caregiving,