Caregiving from my kitchen

Farewell, 2019 (and Family News)

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It’s been quite a year…

You may notice that I have done very little with Inhabited Kitchen this year. Well, that’s because all my time and effort was being spent actually inhabiting that kitchen – and Mom’s room, and… Parent care was much more labor intensive this year.

Dad last fall, on his 92nd birthday

I’m going to start at the very end. A week or so into December, Dad’s heart began to fail. There had been issues before, all well controlled, but suddenly his pulse dropped, as did energy and strength, and… We had him checked out, but there was nothing that could be done. One morning in the very last week of the year, he didn’t wake up. He looked so peaceful it took us a while to be sure he wasn’t going to.

Mom is still wrapping her mind around the impossible, and we’re still adjusting, and we will be for quite while, I think. He was such a strong personality!

To go back a year, most of 2019 was actually about Mom’s health. She fell in March – no “serious” injury, but at 94 a wrenched ankle confined her to bed – and once that happens at that age, a person loses ground badly. By the summer she was able, again, to get up with assistance long enough to come to the table in a wheelchair, but by early fall she lost the ability to stand even that long.

A person stuck in a hospital bed requires frequent hands on care. Add in the medical problems that weakened her in the first place, and that care can be rather intense. Luckily Mom had been accepted in a hospice program before the injury, so we had support in place, and the private aide who had worked for them for several years has been invaluable, but her care still takes much of our energy,

And Dad needed attention as well… He started in hospice over the summer (which is how, when his heart first slowed, we could have a nurse check him out as soon as he showed symptoms… no waiting, no wondering later.)

And, since this is a food blog… Mom, particularly, has had increasing trouble eating. I’ve had to change up the meals I cook multiple times in the last six months – from adding sauce, to only serving tender meat (with sauce,) to only ground or shredded meat (with sauce,) to a brief flirtation with purees.

But that’s when she started to have trouble using a fork – now it’s all finger food, all the time – thin little crackers with spreads, tiny pieces of food she can pick up with a party pick, cherry tomatoes and grapes she can pick up with fingers. I’ve been too busy devising menus to write about them! But don’t worry – I’ve been keeping notes. I intend to keep this focus of Inhabited Kitchen, and eventually I will write up everything I have learned.

We don’t know how much longer Mom has. Rich and I are now suspended in an awkward phase between past, present, and future – still intensively caring for Mom while going through Dad’s things, and looking toward our own future. There are decisions to make about that, from where we will live to whether or not we want the sideboard.

So that’s where we are, now, in January 2020. I hope to post a little more, but it’s going to be a while before I have time to do much. I am organizing the blog, though – I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the number of my old recipes that actually do work well for the elderly. I will update them, and meanwhile I’m working on making them easy to find. I will also write more about cooking as a family caregiver – not just recipes.

And I hope to see you all!

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