Yes, there was a lot of resentment that welled up inside me when my mother-in-law came to live with us. My resentment faded after the first month or so, however, i realized it was simply that I didn’t want my world invaded by anyone. When our freedom was taken, I didn’t like it.
That must have been how she felt too. If I had stopped to realize this, we could have understood each other’s moods. Bu,t I was thinking only about myself and what this arrangement was doing to me and my life. I failed to realize that everything she loved was being taken from her too; her house; most of her furniture; all the items that held memories for her, including the dishes she had had since she was married; and the comfort of her little home. Now all she had was one room and a bath.
The worst part was that she lost her independence. She could no longer putter around in her lovely flower garden that she enjoyed so much. She could no longer cook the type of food she enjoyed. Now she had to rely on someone else and she didn’t like the way I cooked. How she must have longed for the strength to do it herself.
In retrospect, instead of feeling sorry for myself, I should have been thinking about how I could make her life happier in those first months with us.
When you become self-absorbed you lose all perspective.
Don’t make the same mistakes that I made! Think about how your patient feels and try to make their room their home. Keep fresh flowers or plants in the room. Place them where they can care for them. Involve your patient in their own care. While they are able, let them clean their room, do some light cooking, and work in the garden, if you have one.
Your patient needs to feel needed, a part of the family, not just at dinner time, but all the time. Ask for their help in preparing dinner and cleaning house. Sure, it is easier to do it yourself, but knowing that you need their help will make them feel useful, and we all need to feel that we have a purpose in life.
Remember, when you have been independent for most of your life, you are in control. It is hard in give up that control to someone else. Be patient and understanding and soon you will see a difference come over your loved one, a mood of calm and resignation to their situation. They become thankful for your help rather than resistant. You will find that it is a rewarding experience. There is a period of adjustment of course, especially in the first months, but then you will settle into a normal family life.
Give your loved one the opportunity to feel in control. No one likes to feel that they have lost control over their life. Include them in all decisions made on their behalf. Don;t be overprotective. It is easy to be overprotective of someone who is ill or frail. However, it is important for your patient to feel they have control over as many areas of their life as possible. If your loved one is capable, encourage them to do as many things as they can. They should be making as many decisions as they can, too, even if they are just small things like choosing what they would like to eat for a meal.
Everyone needs their privacy. This is one of he losses that an elderly person feels. They need time to be alone with their thoughts. If their door is closed be sure to knock before entering.
Just remember, they are giving up everything; you are just giving up a little privacy for a short period of time. With the right attitude, it will work out just fine.
My mother-in-law lived with us for four and half years. In that time we worked together to make our arrangement work. We eventually talked about how we felt and understood each other’s problem. After that she knew what i was going through and I knew how she felt about giving up her home. From then on, we got along famously. She became the sweet neighbor that I once knew and loved and I enjoyed doing for her. There was love in our home again.
- Good communication with your patient can solve most of the problems.
- Keep a smile on your face and love in your heart.
- Do unto other...your turn is coming.
- Look for the good and that is what you will find.
- Do something nice for you loved one today.
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY
As we get older we need very little, but we do need compassion and love very much.