Dementia Care – Re-assessing a Relationship

My sister and me 1949

My sister and me 1949

So now I have become the parent to my older sister whom I never really knew. There is a 13 year age difference between us with no other siblings. When I was starting school, she was a young adult striking out on her own. She was my adored, beautiful older sister.

When she married and began a family, her older children were closer in age to me than she was. When she was dealing with her teenagers-from-hell, I was a young mother dealing perfectly with my toddlers because of my vast book learning. Fortunately, when I entered my own turbulent life-with-teenagers years, she offered me commiseration. We were together at times during the last illnesses and deaths of our parents and in settling their meager estate, but after that we drifted apart.

My sister and me in 1956

My sister and me in 1956

We have such different temperaments. I am an intellectual, preferring my own company, a quiet room, a comfortable chair, and a book. She loved to go shopping and be entertained. When she used to visit me she would hand me the keys to her car and have me drive her around to the local Reny’s, Marden’s, or Big Al’s. I was always relieved when she left.

But now she is permanent. At first, I kept the TV on for her because that is what she was used to. It made me frantic. I couldn’t concentrate on my reading and writing. My husband and I tried various ways to provide a quiet place for me but the sound carried everywhere, or I was

My sister and me in 2015

My sister and me in 2015

just super-sensitized to it. It annoyed me that she was most often slumped in her chair asleep in front of the TV. The solution that worked was to buy another TV and put the original one in her room upstairs. Her TV is hooked up to cable. The new one downstairs is not. It is a Smart TV and streams from the internet and is seldom watched. The result has been surprising. She prefers to be near me and has taken up reading. The only time she watches the TV is after supper when she retires upstairs for the evening. This is a good solution because I didn’t want her to feel isolated and now we can share the same room enjoying a good read.

Harriet Vaughan

About Harriet Vaughan

I am a Senior Move Manager, working with Senior Citizens and their families when it is time to downsize or just make the home safer and more comfortable for aging in place. I help these people make decisions about what to keep, throw out, donate, or sell. I also offer workshops on "Getting Things Done When You Are Over 60". I write about how to overcome memory lapses and how to use your physical energy well. I have a degree in Home Economics from the University of Maine. I live in Coopers Mills, about 14 miles east of Augusta. I have been married for almost 50 years to my husband, Chuck Vaughan. Our business is called Legacy Years Transition Services.