Friday, November 25, 2011


     When my mother-in-law first came to live with us she was able to do some things for herself.  She could take a shower, fix her own hair and keep her room clean.  But, as her illness worsened, she relied on us to do for her.
     There were times when I had to help her bathe herself, helping her in and out of the shower.  She was a little embarrassed at first, but she soon got over that.  When she could no longer walk and had to be wheeled around in a wheelchair, at first she would get around under her own power, but soon got over that.  When she could no longer walk and had to be wheeled around in a wheelchair, at first she would get around under her own power, but soon she became too weak to do even that chore for herself.
     When she became bedridden was when she needed the most attention.  Her daily routine was laid out so that it worked around our schedule.  At first we hired someone to come in and clean her room, give her a bath, and visit with her for a few hours each day.
     I would still make all the meals and care for her in the afternoon when I returned from work.  my husband did most of the daily chores after he retired, but some were too personal for him to do.  It was hard for him to help her use the rest room or bathe her---that was for me or the caregiver we hired.
     Her day would begin with coffee and a light breakfast, followed by a little rest so she could catch her breath.  it took a lot of her energy to eat her meat (emphysema is like that).  next she would get her bath and put on clean pajamas.  If she felt up to it, we would help her to a chair so that she could read or crochet a little, while we cleaned her room.  We made a pot of coffee for the day, as she was a real coffee drinker, and placed everything within her reach.
     By this time it was almost time to prepare lunch.  When she could no longer join us at the table, we brought her lunch on a tray and joined her in her room from time to time.  She hated to eat alone.  She would always take a nap after lunch and that would give us time to shop or take care of outside chores.
     We made sure that on a beautiful day, she was wheeled onto the porch for some fresh air, and given time to care for her plants.  she did love her flowers.  She would get tired easily, but she loved the outdoors very much, so it was important to give her the chance to be with her flowers.
    We would lift her back into bed for another nap, but not before I gave her a back rub.  She enjoyed having her back massaged.  It seemed to help the circulation when she was staying in bed so much of the time.  I would place a pillow between her legs when she turned on her side.  This helped cushion the knee bones and made her more comfortable.  It is also good to place a pillow between the feet for the same reason.  Her skin was very delicate and would tear easily, so we had to be careful that she didn’t get bedsores.
     We tried to always have her at the dinner table, so she had time to catch up on what we were doing each day.  We would prepare her food first, as it took her a long time to eat, with the oxygen and the emphysema tiring her out so easily.  After dinner she would sit in the living room with us for a little while, then ask to be put to bed, as she got tired.
     Another back massage helped her relax enough to get to sleep, but she might wake up in the middle of the night.  If she did, she would take a broom handle and hit the wall with it.  That would wake us up and we could help her, usually to use the bathroom.  Then in the morning we would start all over gain.
     We had a very good routine, with medication, baths, cleaning and all the other little chores that had to be done.  Mother enjoyed having someone fuss over her, so we tried to be in her room every hour or so to visit while we worked.  It worked out well for all three of us.  She seemed happier when we were there.

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