Barbara from Colorado

My mom, who is 93 years old, has lived with me for the past four years. She has a bit of dementia and aphasia which is heart-breaking when her eyes light up and she is excited to say, "You know...", and the thought is gone. Or, " I think you... oh, no...", and she hangs her head unable to express herself. I do my best to try to fill in for her; we are together constantly, and I have learned to bridge the gaps of silence.

Trying to keep life interesting, I take her shopping with the wheelchair for help and occasionally we eat out. Recently, we ate lunch at the sandwich place. Parking was conveniently close, so we didn't need the wheel chair. It was just a few steps to the door.

Our sandwiches were tasty and the cold drinks refreshing so I refilled the cups as we were ready to go. With Mom's purse and my own purse on one arm and our two full cups in the other, I stepped aside just as Mom started leaning backward and moaning "Ooohhhhh!" I dropped the cups and purses and grabbed her arm.

Looking out from underneath the tables and chairs in the crowded isle of a popular restaurant, I realized I was on top of Mom and she was on top of the drink cups. Through the grace of God, she was not hurt, but what a mess and such an embarrassing situation! A young man was kind enough to help me get her out of her chair-legged prison and back on top, and we dripped our way to the car.

Later, I was telling this experience to a friend who had worked on ambulances and had been on the volunteer fire squad for many years. He told me his motto which has changed my whole approach to eldercare! He said, "driving emergency vehicles - if I didn't get there, I couldn't help!"

I have learned to be level headed and in control (if I'm not, we are both going to get hurt). Always have something solid to hang onto, or a way to break a fall, or get out of the way.

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