Aging and Memory Loss
How to Cope with Parents Getting Older

My Mom is aging and memory loss is becoming more evident. I have found it difficult to think about the possibility of having her move to an assisted living place. The most difficult feeling is the loss. I feel sad about the aging and memory loss my Mom must be suffering. She is not able to do the things she is used to doing; and she is not the kind of person she has been all her life. As she is aging and memory is failing, I can see the frustration she suffers in living her loss: her confusion and puzzlement and disappointment with herself and her lost abilities. She knows how she is losing the ability to care for herself and it will never return; and it will probably get even more difficult for her. I find it difficult to see her struggle with the changes that she is making from being independent to needing help and depending upon others. At first it is with the more difficult tasks that she needs help. But then she is gradually needing help with more simple ordinary things. Then there is the loss that I am enduring personally: my emotional loss of not having the mother I have had all my life. It is as if she has become another person. With her aging and memory changes I am having fewer and fewer opportunities to wish her well and thank her and say good-bye. I find it is getting more strained to share memories and even daily conversation with her. She seems to be adjusting better than I am- her memory loss helps her forget, and she seems to be developing a tolerance of all this. But this loss makes it more difficult to discuss our feelings together to reach the truth of our situation and how she is really feeling. A major part of the loss I am feeling with this is around our "stuff": all the possessions that she and Dad and the whole family have collected and accumulated over the years. These objects are full of powerful memories for all of us. Unfortunately, I am still unable to successfully separate myself from the notion that if I discard any of these things then I am throwing out the memories - and rejecting the people- associated with them. As I write this it makes me think of those programs on TV about hoarders and the awful situations some people can get into. They cannot throw out anything and magazines and newspapers and junk fill up their house until there is no more living space. Other people's "stuff" is always just "junk" isn't it? I am not a hoarder but I do tend to invest a lot of "energy" into things that I associate with people who are important to me- including myself- some of the stuff I have accumulated around the house, for example. These are all learning experiences for me. I find the path I need to take for my own aging and memory changes.