Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Sometimes you just have to laugh

Census Visits Providing Shut-Ins Once-A-Decade Chance For Human Interaction

This video reminds me a lot of my mom and not just because she's also a redhead.   My mom's been widowed for 16 years, and after a couple of injuries from falls, uses a walker and wheelchair and can no longer drive.  Consequently, she's pretty isolated in her house but that's where she wants to be.  Isolated?  No.  In her house?  Yes.  Unfortunately for her, those two things go hand-in-hand.

Like the woman on this video, every question or comment is an opportunity for her to tell a story.  For someone new, this might be pretty interesting but for her son who sees her several times a week, lets just say that those stories have lost any luster that they may once have had.  To be fair, my mom, at age 89, has experienced normal age-onset memory loss.  She doesn't always remember that she may have already told a story.  That accounts for about 2% of her repeat stories.  The other 98% are more likely the result of her isolation or just her need to talk.  If you don't have many new experiences, you just don't have new stories to tell.  Not having anything new to say never stops her from talking, however.  I've come to believe that each person must have a certain number of words that they must speak each day.  Her word-speaking requirement is very high. Come hell or high water, this quantity of words just must be spoken somehow, some way.  If you have words to say and few people to say them to, there's only one thing that can happen  . . . some lucky person is going to get bombarded with more words than they bargained for.

Another facet of my mom's isolation problem is that she resists virtually every effort made to provide new social contacts for her and broaden her experiences.  Almost every suggestion is met with excuses for why she can't do that.  The consequence is that she has a very limited audience and is increasingly isolated and that pesky word-speaking requirement just keeps building until someone calls or stops by to visit.  BAM!  It's like an explosion of words and the caller/visitor can only get in an occasional,  "Uh huh."  It's no wonder that she has few people who call or visit her frequently. It takes a while to recover from the barrage of words, many of which can be characterized in the "doom and gloom" category.

Sometimes you just have to laugh and accept that there are things that aren't going to change.  I'm still gonna hear the stories and I'm still gonna get the same excuses.  She's still gonna be starved for time and attention but she's my mom and I love her, none-the-less.

I have an idea that I want float out there for you to consider.  Why do we start an elderly parent exchange program and rotate parents weekly or monthly.  You haven't heard my mom's stories and I haven't heard your parents stories.  They would get a new audience and we would get a break from the same stories and complaints.   

So what do you think?  Are you in?