Thursday, October 7, 2010

Accessibility and Respect: Shopping With Mom

The other day Mom and I went out shopping, which is always fun for us because once a year we used to go to the East Side of Cleveland for an annual shopping trip when I was younger. (In you live in the Cleveland, Ohio area you know of the East Side/West Side split.)

Anyway, things have changed a lot since then. It takes a few hours for Mom to get ready before we go out now. Also, going to the East Side, which is about an hours drive, is too long. Mom is really only feeling well for a few hours a day so it does not make much sense to drive two hours and waste that time.

So, we went local, but the mall with the store we needed is in an outdoor mall, which poses a lot of problems for someone with limited mobility. At the outdoor mall there is no handicapped parking outside of the shops so even the handicapped sign didn’t help. They only have metered parking by the stores, which is usually full, or parking lots which are quite far away. I was really worried about dropping Mom off by herself in the rain and having her wait for me while I park in the garage.

As it turned out, the Universe was looking out for us and there was a metered spot open just outside MAC Cosmetics. Hallelujah! This was a lucky day. Being with Mom has really made me realize just how inaccessible most of our society is for people with limited ability.

We had a great time at the cosmetics store, mostly because the makeup artist treated Mom like a human being, taking into consideration her abilities. Often people either ignore Mom because she walks and talks a bit slow, or they ignore the fact that she has any limitations and don’t connect with her at all. This makeup artist though took the time to pay attention and see Mom for who she really is. When finding makeup for Mom, she noticed Mom’s tremors and she tried to find products that would be easier for Mom to control and she did not try to sell her a ton of things she can’t use. She didn’t act like Mom was “older” or “different” and therefore didn’t need/want makeup. She also did not yell loudly, assuming Mom could not hear, or do any of the other common things people do with the older population.

I have noticed more and more how people treat Mom differently at times and make a lot of assumptions based on how she looks. I don’t think people ignore others who are older or have any other number of limitations differently on purpose, they just fail to stop and take the time to see them as a person.

It is a blessing to find people who treat Mom as the valuable and beautiful person she is.  So, thank you Maggie at the MAC Cosmetics store in Crocker Park. 


Rev. Katie


  1. Katie,

    I've been keeping up with your blog and I'd like to thank you for choosing to honor your family's journey in this way.

    I don't know that anyone can say they haven't been touched by Alzheimer's disease or dementia in some way. We all watched my paternal grandmother go through the forgetfulness, the depression, the hallucinations and hostility. The most difficult parts for everyone (including her) were her moments of complete and clear lucidity when she had full understanding of her disease and what it meant for her future. She would apologize for the angry outbursts she could not control, and she would tell stories about her family, about how she and my grandfather had met, and about her favorite recipes and traditions. I knew then that she was trying to preserve her memory by making sure we would remember when she could no longer recall or recount her life story.

    She died of a massive heart attack on an early summer morning, in the arms of her husband of over 50 years, which seemed merciful when we thought about the alternatives.

    What you and your husband and son are doing is so important. I hope that you will be able to look back in ten and twenty and forty years and say that you wouldn't have done anything differently. In a time when family bonds are challenged by economics, illness, distance, fear, and anger, your choice to move in with your parents to aid in your mother's care is remarkable.

    All the best to you and your family. I look forward to your continued writings.

    With love,

  2. Diane,
    I am sorry to hear about your grandmother. I hope her stories and the good times you had with her help sustain you and carry on her story.

    It means a lot to me that you are following and your supportive words are a comfort.

    And I agree, I think everyone has been touched by dementia in some way.


    Rev. Katie