News, Information and Ideas on how to deal with hearing loss in a hearing world. Plus a few other topics!
Remember when you would spend a few minutes observing your children as they struggled to learn something new? This scenario also occurs when you are caring for your Parents.
Over the last few months, we've come to realize that our roles as children have reversed to our now being the Parent of Mom. It hit me when I was observing Mom in the hospital while she was eating a meal. As I watched her pick up her empty coffee cup, I could see that she was trying to figure out why it was empty and what she should now do with it. My inclination was to take it from the tray so that she would not become frustrated with the fact that it was empty. Then, I realized that she was focusing intently on it and putting the pieces together as to how it became empty. While it was painful to watch her repeatedly pick it up, try and take a drink and then put it back down, I also was fascinated by how she was processing all of this. That's when it dawned on me that I used to watch my children do the same thing when they were trying to learn something new in their world.
Brian and I have now taken the time to watch her from afar in the nursing home. It helps us to know what kind of day she's having and how we should prepare for our visit with her. Each day is different. Sometimes, we get the Mom that we have known as adults and other times we get the 'new' Mom that will need to have things explained to her over and over. We've seen other family members of other residents become frustrated or even go to the extreme of making fun of their Elders when this happens. We've also seen that deep down they are not sure how to handle the change of personality or mental status.
Our way of doing this makes things a lot easier for us. It also helps us to learn how she is processing information and what road she is going down for the moment. Her body language has changed. When she wants to get out of the wheelchair to go to the restroom, she leans forward in the chair and looks intently at anyone that is in her vicinity. It never occurs to her to press the call button or just ask a staff member as they walk by her for assistance.
She's limited mobility wise due to the full leg cast from her broken femur. But, there are many times when she's putting the good foot on the floor and trying to figure out what she needs to do in order to stand up and walk. While it's sad to see her repeatedly put her foot on the floor, look at it and then try and figure out what step is next, it's also interesting to see how hard she is working at learning the process. While we know that her days of walking are probably over due to the fact that it's going to take at least a year for the leg to heal, we are also enlightened to see that she has not given up on the possibility of once again being able to get out of a chair on her own.
The way that some Elders, in these situations, process information is very interesting to watch. We've had to slow down our way of doing things so that we don't miss something that she's again trying to figure out. We've learned not to intervene when she's having one of these moments due to the fact that her entire body and brain are focused on this moment. To distract her would be frustrating for her and we know that her focus can be gone in an instant. This is the time when you really need to put your needs aside and let the Elder take the lead as to how the interaction is going to occur with you.
Our last visit with her was rather humorous for us. During her relocations the past few months, we've slowly disposed or dispersed of all of her belongings. In her Assisted Living Facility, they preferred that residents did not wear perfume due to some having bad reactions to it. So, we didn't bother keeping or bringing any to the nursing home. We thought that they probably had the same rule. Wrong. Mom loved a certain perfume from Avon. She asked the staff if it would be ok to wear perfume and was given the ok. She even told us that she liked to sit next to some of the other residents that had perfume on because it smelled so good. After checking with the staff, we learned that yes, she could wear perfume.
So, I got on the Avon website at home and found the scent that she loves. It should be here in a few days. We will be putting it in her Easter Basket. She also has taken a liking to candy now. All of us can remember when we would have been chastized for eating anything sweet. This was one of Moms' pet peeves that you do not put sugar in your body. That has all changed now. If she doesn't get at least 1 piece of chocolate a day, she's not a happy camper. She's requested a solid chocolate bunny. There will be one of those in her basket also. We now have to monitor how much candy is in her room and within her reach. We've seen her eat so much in one sitting that we've had to limit the number of pieces she can access. We've even caught ourselves telling her that her tummy is going to hurt if she eats too much. Just like we used to say to our own kids when they were small.
One of the defining moments for us to finally realize that our role as children had changed, was during an encounter with a doctor. He was talking to Mom and asking her questions. We could tell that things were moving too fast for her to process. While he kept talking, she looked at us and that's when we knew things were different. She was trying to tell us, just as our children once did, that she didn't understand what this person was asking of her and needed our help. Parents know that look! Your child looks to you and silently asks for you to intervene. Luckily we were paying attention and got the message.
What goes around, comes around! Sometimes, you just have to slow down so that you see it happening.
Have a great week!
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