Thursday, July 25, 2019
I've written about this combination of topics before. I can't quite believe I'm doing so again.
My sister and I lost our last parent on Friday. As with our father, who died in 2017, our mother's final months were complicated by dementia. Thankfully her death was gentle -- she just sort of wound down at age 93 (and 9 months -- isn't it amusing how we start counting the months again, as people tend to do when someone is nearing 5 and a half years of age).
Both of our parents had full and fulfilling lives, or as one of our friends commented, "your mother used the full runway." The care team at an assisted living community that specializes in dementia care came to know both of our parents well, and our bereavement was matched by the tears of many of the individual caregivers, each of whom had their own memory or story to share. As several of them noted, in her last days Mom seemed determined to "find" Dad. And, of course, we like to think she did find him.
But one additional complication was that as our mother reached her last hours, one caregiver who has worked for our family for several years, and that caregiver's mother, who has worked her way from CNA to head of a care team, were both coping with their own worries and grief. Both of them are U.S. citizens, but as is often true in the Southwest, a family member, a husband, is not documented. Recently he was picked up by ICE. No one knows quite where he is yet, but the family members know they are likely to face hard choices once he is deported. The family members must decide how and where they will live. My parents' care team -- and by extension the community of residents at the assisted living center -- could lose two more skilled and devoted caregivers. The fabric of aging care grows ever more fragile.