Because there was a need to address a health issue with my mother, I took her to her doctor for an appointment. When I talked to her, I knew she was in a ‘tude. She didn’t want any help (though I heled her anyway), and she wanted to put her walker in the back seat before getting in the car. Once we got to the doctor’s office, her demeanor changed to a more positive speech. The good news was the pain she was experiencing in her legs and feet was due to a combination of arthritis and lack of blood flow, and the doctor gave her some pointers on what she should do.
Once the doctor visit was over and we got back to the car, her mental confusion returned, and of course I was the reason for it. But I realized something: I did nothing wrong on this day. I stole no money, nor tried to do something slick to cheat her out of something. I was just being the dutiful daughter who was caring for her mother.
And then I realized further that because I did nothing wrong, and her dementia was just rearing its ugly head, there was no need to get angry, no need to react to her comments that would cause an argument. All I had to do was get better at being proactive by not reacting to her. There were times when I did not respond, to eliminate any creation of a hostile atmosphere. All this is a process, but I am getting better, and I am doing my best not to get hostile.
So to caregivers everywhere, consider this:
- Be proactive in not creating a hostile environment of throwing negative thoughts to your loved one. It only makes matters worse. What about not responding to the comments? Or how about changing the subject all together?
- Acknowledge your role is one of caring; it is one thing when you know you said something that was inappropriate. It is quite another when you are fulfilling your role, trying to do the right thing, and being told off for something you did not do. Take the higher road (I know, easier said than done, but strive for it), and continue to love and care for your loved one.
Being bitter for being in the caregiver role only brings strife and angst from within. But fighting for peace within is a much better goal.