Self

My Mother Has Paid A Huge Price For Living Too Long

Photo: Daniel Lozano Gonzalez, davelogan | Canva
Woman with her elderly mother in her home

“Your mom didn’t want to get up today,” her caregiver told me.

I thought it was an odd thing to say. My mother’s been bedridden for some time now and hasn’t gotten up in months. She hasn’t even left her house for over a year.

She’s waiting at home, ready to die.

What the caregiver meant was that my mother doesn’t want to be awake and aware — she prefers to spend her time unconscious.

“After we cleaned her up, swabbed her mouth, and kissed her forehead, she went back to sleep.”

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My mother’s days and nights join together.

Between naps, she wakes for small meals of blended substances that don’t go together, like chili, lemon pudding, and gravy.

She no longer watches the birds and squirrels frolic in her yard or listens to British sit-coms on her DVD player. Sometimes she wakes for diaper changing and bed baths, but even these small activities tire her out, and she must rest for hours after them.

She’ll turn ninety-nine in three months, but she won’t be an effervescent and exuberant almost-centenarian. Old age has depleted her energy and left her a hollow shell of a woman.

“I’ve lived too long,” she used to say when she was a surprisingly spritely ninety-two-year-old.

I objected then, but now, I have to agree — she has lived too long. She’s outlived her joy in life, her physical abilities, and her financial resources. When she was still part of the waking world, she worried she’d run out of money, and now she has.

If we sold her house and moved her somewhere cheaper, it would be traumatizing for her as someone suffering from dementia. For the last year, she’s had an ongoing delusion where she’s kidnapped (by aliens or bad people) and kept in a room that looks exactly like her bedroom, complete with butter-yellow walls, filmy white curtains, and a vase of irises.

I can’t help but think if we moved her into another yellow room, her nightmare would become a reality.

Photo: RDNE Stock project/Pexels

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My mother’s upkeep has been operating in the red for a while, with family members using their money to help pay for things.

None of us can afford to cover all her expenses or provide alternative care. I won’t be able to pay for my care when that time comes.

Bless my niece, as she’s been doing most of the legwork for financial solutions. She thought of taking out a loan against the house, but my mother has zero credit, so she has no credit score, and the interest rate for a line of credit would be astronomical.

Then, a miracle happened that my mother will never be grateful for because she’s never been a fan of gratitude and is only loosely acquainted with appreciation.

Her caregivers, who are kindness personified, care about my mother so much that they suggested instead of moving my mother, the three of them would take a pay cut.

Who does that?

In June, my mother will receive her last annuity, so until then, things will remain the same, even as she continues her decline toward death. I never thought she’d live this long. Younger people, friends, and celebrities have died, but she’s outlived them all.

RELATED: Impatiently Waiting For My Mom To Die

There were times when we thought death was imminent, but she pulled back from the edge.

Photo: Cottonbro Studio/Pexels

Now her body is too far gone to rally and instead continues to deplete all her resources.

It feels wrong to wish a loved one dead, but she can no longer afford to live.

She doesn’t understand how good she has it, dying at home with her pets and full-time care. But this situation could disappear as quickly as a dream if she continues to be she who remains.

The rent in the Land of Dreams is always free to residents.

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Christine Schoenwald is a writer, performer, and frequent contributor to YourTango. She's had articles featured in The Los Angeles Times, Salon, Bustle, Medium, Huffington Post, Business Insider, and Woman's Day, among many others.

This article was originally published at Medium. Reprinted with permission from the author.