Valentine with love you forever

Showing sensitivity to those we love is important whether they have Alzheimer’s or not.

February 14 2014 – I suppose I thought about sensitivity before Alzheimer’s after receiving one of those forwards we often get in our email, although it may have been on Facebook.  Either way, it was a message aimed at mostly wives because it was a wife who reminded her husband of the other woman in his life.


“This other woman,” the wife outlined for her loving and devoted husband, “loves you very much and would be so pleased if you would invite her for dinner every so often.  Of course, the thoughtful wife, showing sensitivity was making reference to her mother-in-law.


I for one miss my grown children, especially now when caught in the loneliness of Alzheimer’s.  Heaven forbid that any of them would be so dependent on us, as parents, that they’re still hanging around the house at middle age or older.  Rather parents, mothers and fathers want the cake with all the frosting for their children which includes happiness and a companion with whom to share their life.  So it is with bittersweet parting that we wave them off to become their best self.


I think of Rose, my mother-in-law, and she was a wonderful person, accepting of me as her son’s wife, and the mother of her grandchildren. She and I had a good relationship.

Let’s say Ken and I just took it for granted that all was well with mom and dad.  In actuality it was, but with 12 years difference in their age, Nick was settling into an old, tired and retired man at 70 while she was only 58.  He was content to sit before the fire with his feet up watching TV, and expected her to do the same – night after night.  Rose was still young and an occasional  dinner and movie out would have been fun and a welcome relief for what had become a mundane life, but lacking sensitivity, Nick was content doing nothing.


Without thinking neither Ken nor I thought of filling in some of the blank spots in her life.  Both of us were preoccupied with our life:  me rearing our five children and Ken with his career and doing his share with his children and community affairs.


Every so often, though, Ken’s sister Loretta would call asking when was the last time Ken had called his mother?  That was my clue to tell my husband to call his mother, but if I had been really sensitive to her needs I would have suggested he spend some time with her: to make a date with her.  Give her an opportunity to just talk with her son.  Quality time the way daughters do with their mothers on lunch dates or shopping sprees.  Some fun together time.

Within a few years both she and Nick showed obvious signs they were having cognitive problems soon diagnosed as memory loss or old age. The medical people weren’t giving the problem an appropriate name at that point in time, but within a few years we knew they had Alzheimer’s.


Rose and I often had lunch together on days when I took her to a doctor’s visit.  With her illness the need and yearning for that mother/son togetherness was gone.   It’s only now with Ken vanishing into Alzheimer’s that I understand her earlier loneliness.  Thank goodness for experience.  It is a good teacher, but only when we learn from it, and when we learn we strive to pass it on.  Meanwhile, if I could I would send an apology to Rose for not sharing her son more often.


There’s a difference in caring for our parents when Alzheimer’s sets in. It’s before they’re lost in dementia that they need that extra attention to fill in the lonely gaps of growing old.  So the questions are,” Are you being sensitive to their needs?” “How long since you called or visited home,” and  “When did you last make a date with mom or dad – separately.”  Perhaps dads need the same consideration and attention from their daughters as  mothers need from their sons.

By the way, remember it’s Valentine’s Day weekend. Are you showing your sensitivity to an aging parent. Now is a good time to pick-up the phone and let them know you care.

Originally posted 2014-02-17 00:49:27.

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