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Jann Arden on the struggles of Alzheimer's and her aging parents

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Jann Arden on the struggles of Alzheimer's and her aging parents

hands There comes a time in our lives when we are not only parents to our children but we also become parents to our parents too. As their health begins to falter and the uncertainty of their future becomes all too real, it's a difficult process for them and for those of us caring for them. It's a scary time for everyone. I read this post on Jann Arden's facebook page and I haven't been able to get it out of my mind. I've re-read it a few times since. Jann captures the worries, struggles and the beauty of it all so eloquently. As I write this, her post has received 4,494 comments, 8,662 shares and 30,749 likes. I guess I'm not the only one that has been captured by the beauty of her words. Here is her facebook post from October 8th. There are days when I feel like I am the worst person in the world. I sit in a chair and feel like everything I do and everything I say is mean spirited and selfish. This is the weight that slithers my way on occasion, when it comes to the care of my mom and dad. Both of their memories are all over the place and I find myself getting more and more impatient-more snippy-more grumpy more frustrated. My mom said to me the other day "You always seem mad at me Jann..." I died a little inside after she let that sentence fall out of her mouth. I told her I wasn't mad at all, that I was just somehow caught off guard with this new version of them.  "This is new to me too", she said, "And I can't do a darn thing about it. I am practically drinking that coconut oil you bought us..." That really made me laugh. I told her that I hoped she was kidding. I loathe watching them misplace every single thing; keys and purses and credit cards and hats and coats and money and electric bills and coffee mugs and glasses and the TV remote...ALL of it, goes missing. There are elves in the house, "movers" my mom calls them, that take little things and put them just out of reach, just out of plain sight. "The movers move things" she said. "Either that- or your dad and I are going crazy. At least we're doing it together." They are indeed doing it together. They NEVER get mad at each other. My dad will answer the same question from my mom a hundred times and not even flinch. After about the 4th time mom asks me something, I seem to lash out like a whip and I feel completely ashamed. I called her the other day and told her how sorry I was and she said "About what?" It gave me a lump in my throat the size of a toaster. "About me being so short with you." "Well, you're doing the best you can, you always do and we appreciate everything you do..." I can feel my heart pump the blood to the end of my fingers. I can feel it fill my cheeks and pulse in my running shoes that are tied too tight again. My mom is so kind. It baffles me most days how my dad's drinking and carrying on back in the day didn't make her coarse and bitter and unmerciful. No matter how much he yelled, or how drunk he got, or how often he stormed around like 4 year old, my mom just kept right on being herself- empathic, good natured, generous, funny and thoughtful. And here I am, turning into some kind of memory referee, blowing my whistle and crying fowl, every time either of them repeat themselves or get mixed up. After much reflection, I have realized how scared I am. I am scared of them forgetting themselves into oblivion and taking me with them. I am scared of all the changes, how their lives seem to be stolen day to day, their pasts thrown into a blender and set to STUN. I am just scared. The funny part of all of it, is that they aren't the least bit concerned. They on the contrary, are not scared at all. They are happy. They are so good humored and light hearted, positive and faithful and easy going. I am the only one freaking out. I need to tear a page out of their book and just calm the hell down. So what they put the remote in the fridge? So what the car keys are in with the dog food? Mom said, "We find things eventually Jann, it's not the end of the world." Indeed, it is not. So lovingly written, heartfelt and poignant. It's difficult to know how we will react when our parents health begins to fail. Her little post serves as a reminder that although it isn't always easy, a little bit of love and understanding goes a long, long way. Photo courtesy of danna (curious tangles)/Flickr
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Jann Arden on the struggles of Alzheimer's and her aging parents

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