When my father was in the latter stage of Parkinson’s and middle stage of Alzheimer’s, I was not the best care-giver. I was impatient; I regarded visiting as a “something I have to do chore” and I let my buttons get pushed—reverting to adolescent anger more often than I would like to admit.
But if I knew then what I know now, I would have realized that he was terrified. I would have been kinder and much more patient. I’d let him set the pace. I’d be content to sit with him in silence—to be a calm presence that could reassure him that he was not alone. I’d give him a gentle neck massage knowing that touch is important. I’d smile at him and mean it.
This is what I’ve learned from Mom—and while I’ll never get the chance to do this with Dad, it’s what I strive to do with her and all the ladies in Assisted Living every time I visit.
And before you know it, it’s no longer an obligation, it’s an appetite.