Mom was always a polished woman. Her hair was dyed and coiffed, makeup smooth, nails long, red and shiny. She likes to match colors and usually had shoes, purse, belt and earrings all neatly coordinated. Even in the early stages of memory loss, she maintained this level of appearance.
Now it is a lot harder. She no longer drives, and amidst everything else that I do, I have not taken Mom to a salon for a while. For the first time in her life, the grey is seriously showing. I no longer take her to a nail place so she paints her own nails at home and does not do the best job of it. It’s a dilemma to me whether I should prioritize this more given her self image of a lifetime. Or whether it’s okay to let this go on the not quite as important list. Hair and nails are lower on my personal priority list but Mom was always different from me in this way. I wonder what others do about this particular issue. Sometimes I tell her we should go get this done and she says that she will do it tomorrow, or next week, or that she needs to let it grow more before getting it done. This last response from her confuses me so I just let it be.
With the delays in visiting a salon her hair is growing out a bit and Mom is getting more creative with her hair styles. I bought her a pack of different colored headbands and she likes to match them to her outfit. She also found some hair clips and uses them quite generously. I find it really cute but I don’t know that “cute” is her ideal look at almost 70.
We have agreed that I am taking her to a holiday party in a couple of weeks and this discussion led to an immediate assessment from her that she needed to get her hair done. I think she is right. The party will be the biggest social event she has attended in a long time. Good hair is a solid start. Maybe we will get bright red manicures together too.
December 7, 2013 at 8:27 am
First, thanks for following my blog. I welcome you. Your sensitivity, caring and good sense of humor will serve you well for the journey ahead–a priceless gift, actually, for you and you mother. I’m wondering if you have siblings to help out. That said, mothers have told me “sons are not daughters” (when it comes to caregiving). Don’t all of us daughter know that!
If you have a blog email address (or you email to my blog’s address) I’d be happy to share links to some sites you might find useful. In any event, don’t forget the airplane advice that I add frequently to my posts–for caregivers:: “Place the mask over your nose and mouth before assisting others.” ….plus a saying you’ll often find:: “Look Good Feel Better.” I’m glad you’re taking your mother to have her hair (and possibly nails) done. 🙂
December 7, 2013 at 7:21 pm
Thanks Susan! Part of why I wanted to blog about this experience is partly because I am already feeling an incredible sense of how much good there is in this experience that mostly sounds scary and burdensome to others. I really appreciated that you talked about both fun and self-esteem on your blog.
December 7, 2013 at 11:32 am
Thanks for following my blog! You probably won’t believe this, I spent a couple hours last night on a post about hair because we had a three generational hair makeover this past week – took both my mom and my daughter for appearance upgrades. It was so worth it. I love the decision you have made to be a part of your mom’s life in a difficult, uncertain time. My personal opinion is that you will never regret it. I volunteer to encourage you whenever you need it (you probably will).
December 7, 2013 at 12:45 pm
Thanks! Encouragement is always welcome. I know it’s the right decision though but there are up and down moments.
December 11, 2013 at 4:43 pm
The hair thing was a difficult thing to handle when grandma went through this. She had the tradition of going every week to get her hair “set” and then she would pin each individual curl down every night in order to make sure it was perfectly in place when she woke up the next morning. When grandpa passed away, grandma had lost most of her vision and started slipping into the dementia, thus was unable to care for herself, much less drive. However, she was still lucid enough to lament that she could not keep up with her regular hair appointments. I managed to arrange it so I could take her at least 2 times a month, but it was not the same, and, one time, she sadly recalled to me how “vain” she had always been about her hair – it had always been her point of pride to be perfectly coiffed. It got to be our special “date” day. I would take her for her hair appointment, and then, just like grandpa had done, I would take her for lunch at Arby’s and split a sandwich and a shake with her: their tradition for over 20 years living in Tucson. Those dates were some of my best memories with her. Many times, she could hardly recall where she was, much less who I was, but she was happy, and I am so glad I got to share in that. Hang tough, it is not easy. Love you.
December 12, 2013 at 12:12 am
I am increasingly convinced to prioritize the hair. 🙂