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HORIZON BLOG

I Can't Help Mom Like I Did Before

 

Question

"Every year, I take my mother to a family gathering out of state. Over the last few years, the trip has become harder and harder for me. 

Mom now uses a wheelchair to get everywhere. I have to haul the wheelchair in my trunk, lifting it up over the bumper and loading it. I can barely lift it safely. I have to put in in and out of the car multiple times in a day during this little trip. I also have to push her in the chair everywhere the two of us go together. Since it’s a travel wheelchair it’s a bit lighter, but also harder to push over uneven surfaces.

The wheelchair is just one issue. Mom also needs help in the bathroom. She can transfer herself but she is quite unsteady. I must always be around. In her apartment, designed for the elderly, she manages just fine. There are ramps, grab bars, and wide doorways where she lives. It’s transport by car that is my challenge. 

We stay in a hotel that is accessible, though she is unable to do anything independently. I must be with her at all times. 

Mom does enjoy the trips even though they tire her out. The struggle comes in my simply not enjoying the trip at all. It’s exhausting for me. I’m 65 years old, 115 pounds and in good health, while Mom is 90. Would I be a bad daughter to tell her that I can’t do it anymore?"

 

Answer

How kind of you to have taken your mother on an annual trip under the circumstances. I’m certain that your mother is grateful, or should be grateful for your willingness to provide her entertainment like that on an annual basis.

All along, the two of you had to know this couldn’t last forever. There comes a time when it simply becomes too much, and it sounds like you have reached that point.

All wheelchairs are heavy. Lifting a chair in and out of a trunk is no small task for a small person. The older you get, the harder it becomes to lift and move that chair, as you’ve discovered. 

Since she lives in a facility that offers mobility without barrier, she can navigate successfully while home. What’s you and your mother must do now is plan alternate travel solutions.

If travel is very important to her, a van with a ramp may be the most reasonable option. It’s an expensive choice, and based on her age it may only be needed for a few years. A vehicle like that also requires storage space that may exceed what a car requires. It’s only worth it if your family/mother decides that it is a quality-of-life need that she can afford. 

It may be time to consider what the residence she stays at offers in the form of transportation to appointments or social activities. Just because she may not have tapped into those options in the past does not mean that what is offered is not good or relevant. 

As time marches on we are all required to adapt to our age and abilities. You and your mother are reaching a point where some changes need to be made to safely move forward. Adaptation is not a bad thing, it is necessary. Be honest with your mother. Frankly she may be feeling the same thing that you are. Don’t think that she cannot see how hard it is for you and how tired you become on your trip. Be honest and open with mom.  Hopefully, the two of you will find a new activity or adventure.

 

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