Carpools And Playdates...(?)
Every day, a little more. Slowly but surely...steady as she goes...inch by inch... a little at a time. We barely see it coming, and then... BAM! We’ve unknowingly leaned in, and are now our parents’ keepers. Sort of...
These days, I provide just enough assistance for Mom to be able to stay in her home. She can do this because: a) she’s still sharp as a tack, b) she’s fairly mobile and, c) she’s got a bladder that won’t quit. A disturbance in any one of these forces could completely change her flight path.
Although “just enough” is easy enough, it has a decidedly definite impact on my life as well. It adds a kind of stop/start quality to it... Red Light/Green Light. Just as my mind gears up to answer the question of how to achieve world peace, I get a phone call with a gentle reminder that it’s time for me to do, be, or pick something up for Mom. She generally practices triage with me....identifying the most important “ask” of the day and keeping her eye on that prize. I respect that she respects my time, but I often leave her house with a bag of guilt and a feeling that I should’ve done more.
Enter, Sherry. A home health aide with a tiny window of opportunity, (thank the Lord). Three precious hours a week from this little lifesaver has given Mom a whole new lease on life. Because Sherry is a paid professional, Mom feels just fine asking her to do things she’d never ask of me. Last week they went to the bank (whistling as they worked) to turn a hundred rolls of coin, into viable paper cash ($163, thank you very much). They’ve also perused the shelves of CVS for an hour in search of the right pink lipstick. Organizing drawers, shelves and closets is another “Sherry activity” (and man, is she good at it...). Completing these “chores” gives Mom that sense of purpose and accomplishment that all of us want to feel, as often as possible.
With the help of Sherry, Mom is liberated... free to come and go as she pleases (-ish). Witnessing this transformation makes me ponder - would more Super-Seniors like to experience this same kind of opportunity? (Ah... Duh...). Sherry can’t be everywhere at once, but maybe ACAPs* could join forces in their towns and organize CARPOOLS AND PLAYDATES ... take a page from Soccer Moms everywhere, and share the load. I’m not sure about yours, but my mother would think this to be an absolutely brilliant idea.... a little fresh air and exercise, mental and visual stimulation, social interaction.... accomplishment (!). It’s not rocket science.
Maybe carpools and playdates (“stay-dates”?...“grey-dates"?) are just the tip of the iceberg. Such a simple concept that’s been around since the beginning of time...combining hunters with gatherers... teamwork. The what-ifs and possibilities are endless.... small groups of ACAPs sharing meal-prep and delivery... grocery trips and CVS visits... Dominoes and Mahjong.
Some... (shall we call them) “clubs” (?) might chose to sidestep the work completely, pool their $$$$ resources with other ACAPs, and hire Blue Apron to make-and-deliver their parents’ meals... or get group discounts for regularly scheduled VNA home visits... or hire a communal gardener. Again, endless possibilities, marred only by state and federal regulators (and perhaps, the insurance industry...).
If nothing else, tossing these ideas around highlights the very real notion that there are other ways to do family caretaking. And I, for one, would be entirely willing to join a club, lighten my load, and limit my day(s) per week!
*Adult Children of Aging Parents