Could Mom's Facility Be Doing Too Much for Her?
"My mother lives in a Memory Care unit at a local facility. I visit her every other day and have noticed that they do things for Mom there that I believe she can do for herself. I realize that maybe I shouldn’t be complaining. After all, they take very good care of Mom. But I do wonder if they’re fostering dependence.
Lately when I visit, she seems to expect certain tasks to be done by others even when she can do them herself. One task is putting on her shoes. She simply sits there and waits until someone comes to put them on. When she really wants to get going, she bends over and slips them on. She’s quite capable and in no apparent distress when she does it.
Same with eating. Mom waits for someone to come by and cut up what’s on her plate. If they seem busy or staff attention is focused elsewhere, Mom cuts up her food and starts eating.
I’ve watched this for months now and wonder if Mom’s dependence might hasten her decline."
I believe you have a valid concern about your mother’s physical wellbeing. Our bodies need to be used to remain functional and to operate at their potential capacity. Even young people can become deconditioned if the opportunity for movement is denied or restricted.
The most effective exercise is meaningful use of our bodies. What I mean by that is movement that accomplishes a task (putting on shoes, walking to the dining room, washing your hair) requires use of major muscle groups. She needs to continue to do these things and many more to retain her abilities and stay fit.
Your mother’s memory will likely continue to decline. We’re all in a state of decline once we reach maturity at about 21 years of age. That does not mean, though, that after 21 we simply sit around and cease all activity. No one would recommend that. The goal is to maintain our peak performance for as long as possible.
It’s important to partner with the Memory Care facility to foster the independence and activity level that your mother can handle. This requires a meeting with the facility leadership to review your mother’s daily activities. I recommend listening carefully, providing your observations, and coming to a landing place with her facility staff. I’m certain they’ll agree with the need to remain mobile, and you’ll need to make peace with the tasks that they must do for your mother. Life is a series of negotiations and compromises. But I do believe that you are wise to advocate for your mother to keep her as active as possible.
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