By Carol Abaya,
Question:† I get
up two hours earlier than I normally would have so I can go over to my
parentsí house and get my mother up, bathed and dressed before I go to
work.† She had a stroke and can no longer bathe herself.† She refuses
to cooperate and gives me a hart time each day.† By the time I get to
work I am frustrated and angry.† This impacts on my work.
You may be overlooking some simple and very obvious elements that are
creating this tension and stress.
First, before your
motherís stroke what time did she normally get up?† Was she an early or
Second, what time
did she normally take a bath?† In the morning or evening?
If she was a late
riser and took her bath at night, why is it so necessary for her now to
do it to your schedule?† Forcing her to get up early only upsets her.†
She then lashes out at your, which angers you.† This stress is not good
for either of you and certainly doesnít help your relationship.† Face
it -- would you want someone to make you get out of bed early and take
a bath when you normally would not have done so?
Step back and take
an objective look at the situation.† Does she really need help getting
up, brushing her teeth and washing her face, and then getting dressed?†
Is there someone else there -- your father, for example, -- who can help
If you help her bathe
at night, you will not be in such a hurry to leave to get to work on time
and will not be pushing her to hurry up -- something she may have difficulty
doing because of the stroke.† If you are both more relaxed, your relationship
will take on a more positive tone.
If itís difficult
for you to be there at night, consider hiring a health aide to come in
several times a week to give your mother a bath at her convenience.
You should respect
and accept her wishes and timing.† After all, it is her life!
Question:† My mother
has Alzheimerís and lost a lot of weight during a recent illness.† I bought
her new clothes, but she fights me every day when I help her get dressed.†
I cannot understand why she wonít wear these new very nice clothes.
You objective to help her look nice is commendable.† However, whose taste
and values were used in selecting the clothes -- yours or hers?† Did you
take her with you and let her choose?† Or did you make the decisions?
A social worker at
a nursing home told me this story, about a woman who verbally abused all
the help and sometimes refused to even get dressed.† By carefully observing
what was happening the days she was combative and the days she wasnít,
they discovered that she was calm and quiet when she wore her red dress.†
All of the other clothes her daughter had bought were somber colors.†
Even though Alzheimerís
robs people of their personality and memory, they still know what they
like and donít like.† In this case, the woman liked bright colors and
was happy when she was wearing red.
The solution was easy.†
The daughter bought more bright colored clothes.
spring here, my mother, 86, wants to go to the mall to get summer clothes.†
She uses a walker and is very slow.† Iíve told her Iíd buy some clothes.†
She can try them on at home and Iíll return what she doesnít want.† She
insists she wants to† go.† It takes four times longer that way.† Advice
†Take your mother even if it takes a long time.† Your mother wants
to control bits of her life -- and rightly so.† She wants to select
what sheíll try on -- even if she takes the clothes home to try
on.† Itís very important for an elderís self-esteem to make the choices.
I always added at
least another hour to any trip as my mother also had trouble getting around
quickly.† Once in the store, I let her wander around to her heartís
content.† She always enjoyed these trips and finding bargains.
Even if a person is
in a wheelchair, a trip outside the house and to a mall where there are
a lot of other people can be a morale booster.† There is also the alternative
of ordering clothes through catalogues.† I personally donít like shopping.†
So I do order through the mail and have my favorite manufacturers.† My
mother, on the other hand, liked to go out and see and feel the merchandise.†
Either way, let your mother make the choices.
Question:† A new
health club opened near us, and my mother, 78, wants to join so she can
swim and do some exercises.† How can I convince her sheís too old to wear
a bathing suit?
†You need convincing.† Sheís only as old as she ďthinksĒ she is!
Exercise helps maintain
good health, and swimming is one of the most stress free forms of exercise.†
Also, it will give your mother the opportunity to get out and meet and
talk with new people.
My mother, at 86,
joined such a club and enjoyed it for several years.† My father did 2
to 3 miles a day on a stationary bike until he was 92.
If your mother goes
alone and has any particular health problems, do alert the staff and make
sure they have your motherís doctorís name and telephone number as well
Question:† I took
my father, 74, shopping and all he wanted was red print or bright green
shirts.† Heís too old for such colors.† How can I get him to understand
No one is ever too old to wear bright colors.† Bright colors (1) cheer
up a person, and (2) make him/her feel good about self.
My father liked red
shirts and did so until his death at 94.† He also liked checkered jackets
and plaid slacks.† And he usually mixed the different prints with a bow
tie that was of still another print.† What was important was that these
were what HE liked and wearing them made HIM feel GOOD.† Our objective
as adult children must be to help our aging parents continue to feel good
about self.† And after all, he, not you, is wearing the clothes.† As long
as they are clean and pressed, what difference does it really make?
Question:† My grandmother
is in a nursing home.† She is able to walk around, but is often very confused.†
Her needs are little, so we donít know what to get her for Xmas.† Any
advice would be welcome.
This is a common dilemma, whether the older person is in a nursing home
or at home.† Whatever the gift, the objective should be to show that person
that she or he is still loved, part of the family and an important person.†
a pretty picture, a family picture, a decorative pillow, an afghan or
ones that have past meaning can be reframed, and new ones can help elders
keep in touch with family far away.
A radio or tape recorder
helps a person maintain contact with the rest of the world and family,
especially if bedridden.† Periodic taped messages, especially from friends
and family who live far away help an elder retain a sense of importance.
very inexpensive jewelry, helps a woman feel good about herself, and it
doesnít matter if it gets broken or lost.† A watch for either sex helps
a person maintain contact with time of day and world.
Skin cream; a light
scented perfume or dusting power or after-shave lotion help a person feel
good about self, provided the person isnít allergic.
Food: a favorite homemade
dish or small jar or portion of a favorite food helps relieve the sameness
of facility food.
washable may be welcome. But ask the primary caregiver first.† Sock slipper
with leather soles keep a person warm, yet wonít slide off like shoes
or regular slippers do.† A light sweater may be good in an air-conditioned
facility because older people get colder faster than the young.
Plants or flowers,
even silk flowers, help liven up a room and are pretty to look at.† Even
if a person has poor eyesight, flowers with a nice fragrance can be enjoyed.
Question:† My father,
78, has been complaining of persistent back pain, and his doctor says
itís ďall in his head.Ē† X-rays donít show anything.† Is my father fooling
us and trying to get more attention:
Persistent back pain is real!† And yes, often X-rays do not
identify the cause.† Even the regular CT scans or MRIís can miss the cause.†
Deeper three-dimensional CTs might be helpful.
However, pain is often
ďReferred.Ē† This means the pain is in a location other than the real
In my motherís case,
the pain was on her left side, but the problem was that her right hip
had deteriorated.† It took seven months of tests and going to various
doctors to identify this.† After right hip replacement surgery at 86,
she was back driving and selling real estate.
Pain can also mean
bone density is low and bone collapse might occur.
Also, back pain can
be indicative of ďorgan problems - gall stones, kidney disease, for example.
So, keep looking for
the reason for the pain.
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