Patti Gobetz

Is There Anybody Out There?

February 02, 2010
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In the course of general conversation, many people will ask how you are doing. When you describe your situation to others, do you find it falling on deaf ears, get the yada yada yada look, or the ever dreaded "I can’t talk now – but I’ll call you soon"? The one I personally love the best, the pity sigh. Sometimes, you will find that people (yes, even family) you really counted on to be there aren’t. But don’t despair or take it to heart, not everyone can fulfill this undertaking.

We look at those we love, and remember who they were and what they meant in our lives. Today, we see them differently – sometimes without a clue as to who they are now are or what they are going through.

The person with Alzheimer’s who puts too much food in their mouth and forgets to swallow, so you have to pull the food out of their mouth.

The one you have just bathed and dressed, only to find that they had soiled themselves

How many times have you said:

  • “I’m so tired”
  • “I don’t know what to do”
  • “I don’t know how much more I can take”
  • “I think I’m going crazy”
  • “God!”

If you feel it is your “duty” to be there for your loved one 24/7, you are doing them and yourself a grave injustice. This situation will cause anger, frustration and resentment to fester until you become so infused with these emotions that you can no longer effectively take care of yourself, let alone a loved one.

Breathe.

Check with your local county Senior Citizens Council. Many offer programs, such as meals on wheels (if your loved one qualifies, there is no charge for this). If your loved one can get around and out of the house, the Council also offers Senior Activity Days which usually last a few hours.

There are many volunteer organizations that visit the elderly and sick. Use caution though and slowly introduce the idea to them. When you speak to them about this, note not only what they say but pay particular attention to their reaction and body language. (My mother was well known in her church. Every Wednesday, she had company for 1½ hours.)

Remember, your loved one is confused and scared. New things, people, and routines can sometimes do more harm than good. Be sure you or someone you designate can be there the first few times. For those that can relate, it is like taking a child to school for the very first time. Both the parent and student are frightened, unsure of new people, and more so new surroundings.

Be strong and believe that you are doing the best that you can. If you have a close friend, neighbor or family member, invite them to lunch. You will be surprised at what “good behavior” your loved one has. Go for a walk, listen to music, do something fun for yourself and your family if only for a few minutes.

Quote of the day

Oh, I love to see a man with a cigar. It reminds me of my grandfather. Morning to night, he used to sit with a great big stogie dangling from his lips. Oh, the hours we kids used to spend sitting on his lap, playing with the yellow whiskers beneath his nose. Then he'd take out his teeth with the cigar still in them and chase us around the room! We'd all laugh and laugh . . . then suddenly Grampa's mood would change, and we'd all have to run for our lives. . . . You can't buy memories like that.

- Daphne Frasier