Drawers and Doors and Dentures


Drawers and Doors and Dentures

It's taken me a long time to figure this out and it shouldn't have been so difficult. Part of the reason my parent's assisted living apartment is so, so cluttered is because they don't open drawers or doors very often anymore. This has any number of repercussions. First of all, if they don't see food on the counter or on the coffee table, they are obviously out of food and need to go to the store. It doesn't matter that their cupboards, refrigerator, and freezer are full, there is nothing to eat. The same goes with clothes. Unless they are on the floor, piled high on the wheelchair, dresser, and bed, they can't find their clothes. The closet doors are never closed, so I suppose once in awhile they choose something from the closet to wear, but I suspect the bigger reason is because their is so much stuff piled up around the doors, they can't close anymore.

As I said, it shouldn't have taken me this long to figure it out. The aha moment came when I went to pick Mom and Dad up for their dentist appointments and physicals. I knew it would be an all day excursion as there is a lot of sitting and waiting involved. I brought my knitting.

I got to the apartment to find out Mom had lost her teeth. She couldn't figure out where they could possibly be! Yes, she'd had them earlier in the day. She showed me the plastic dish, placed precariously on the edge of the sink, where she put them at night. We looked for 20 minutes or so before I finally said we'd need to go without them. I would help her look when we got back, I promised, even though I knew it could take a week to reach the next stratum.

Got to the clinic, dentist appointments were first. Seems that both Mom and Dad have inflamed gums and Dad has a sore on his. They were NOT to wear their dentures for at least another week. Great. Might give us time to find Mom's! However, the real issue seems to be they aren't cleaning their dentures well enough and they still use too much Fixodent. Denture adhesives are not supposed to be necessary and they can make the dentures not fit right. Mom takes her teeth out at any opportunity. Dad doesn't even take them out at night. In fact, when he took them out and handed them to the nice, new dentist, I thought she was going to lose her breakfast. In order to not have to deal with the mess, they will make Dad new dentures. Actually, it's probably time. He's had these for as long as I can remember.

The rest of the visit went okay. Their physicals didn't reveal anything new. They're 88 and 93 now. Nothing new is good.

Then, back to the apartment where Mom started hunting for her teeth again. I assured her that the dentist would make her new ones if she couldn't find hers. Then I spied her teeth sitting neatly on the dresser. An aide had found them tangled in the bed sheets. Before she could turn and see them, too, I scooped them up and put them in my bag. I know she would have started wearing them again. I have both Mom and Dad's dentures at my house. The dentist had been concerned about their nutrition. What would they be able to eat? She instructed me to feed them pureed food and liquids. Great. The facility does not do special diets. I swore under my breath as I saw one more layer of care duty added to my schedule. I would have to bring them meals.

Had I thought about it more, I shouldn't have worried too much and the swearing was entirely unnecessary. Last night Mom managed to eat an entire bratwurst on a bun with no teeth. Dad managed two bowls of soup! He has been mostly living on Ensure lately, so the two bowls of soup was more real food than he usually eats.

When I got home, physically and mentally exhausted, my husband and daughter were talking about this wonderful woman they'd read about who had lived to be 108 years old. My mental math is not the greatest, but I quickly realized if Mom were to live to be 108, that would be 20 more years! I'd be 80. I've already been their primary caregiver for 9 years. I panicked. As much as we don't like to think of our carees' passing, the thought of either one of them being around for another 20 years?

The swearing I did then was entirely appropriate.

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Oh, Goldie. You work so so hard on behalf of your family. You amaze me.