I believe that the mental deterioration that comes with age in various degrees has got to be the most difficult part of our journey. And it is so nearly impossible to emotionally separate ourselves from the pain that goes along with it all. I know that I have to tell myself daily that there is nothing that I can do to change the fact that dad is getting older but to enjoy and accept the good moments that we have together.
Mimi, it is wonderful that your mother shares how she is feeling with you about the aging process. I know it is hard on you but it has given you such an understanding of what she is going throught that you have been an immense help to the rest of us... I think it is because she senses how much you care and also a strength in you that gives her the freedom to express herself to you.
Sometimes I think it is less important what is in one's head as what is in one's heart. As you know, I am sure, my dad lost his ability to communicate to a large degree after his last TIA. It breaks my heart every day and I have felt incredible guilt over it all... But I do realize that it is not my fault - I just wish I had come into this position with more knowledge instead of learning the hard way... One thing I do know is that when all is said and done, we will have much more knowledge, compassion and understanding. But, even so, there are some things that we will never completely understand.
And that brings me to "why do people stare?" There is one that I don't understand for sure. I will say that when dad and I go out, we attract a certain amount of attention. I think that they are wondering (in our case) if he is going to make it across the room and why isn't she helping him more??? I have held my breath on many occasions because of his "weak" knee. He refuses to use a wheelchair and I have to respect that... We do use a knee brace and that worked so well last time that I had to make him slow down before he fell over forward on me.
Perhap, with regards to the staring issue, it may be enlightening if you strike up a conversation when you notice someone staring at your mother. Just say something like "isn't my mother beautiful?" and see what they say or "she loves to go out to dinner..." Just see if you can find out what is on thier minds. It may be that they see their own future vulnerabilities or their elderly loved ones are in some nursing home where they never see them and they are feeling some remorse?
These are just some wild guesses on my part... Hopefully others have experiences that will enlighten the rest of us. Meanwhile, Mimi, keep on doing the wonderful things for your mother that you do.
Love and Hugs from Glenda