Saturday, May 29, 2010

Let go - realize what you CAN do versus what you WANT

The past year I've learned a lot of hard lessons, the most important is that I can't do everything - I must let some things go.   I can't keep up our home & yard in another state, a full-time job, Mom's house & yard, take mom for outings and doctor appointments, mind her finances AND exercise and eat right.    Something is always getting dropped, most often it's something I want for myself - a lunch with the girls, a hobby or craft, a trip to the salon for a haircut....   I am not complaining, but I am confessing that I've become okay with letting some things go for my own sake and my mom's.   I had to prioritize:  People have become important and my relationship with my husband has become the most important thing.   He's been wonderful and patient and I don't know how I'd do this all without him.  

After the past year here are my new priorities:
  • 1st:   my husband and my own emotional needs 
  • 2nd our financial well being - don't go into debt for others not even Mom, be thrifty & don't sacrifice your ability to save for your own long term care, pay our bills on time
  • 2nd Mom's physical needs, is her environment safe? is it clean, clothes cleaned & replaced often, does she get meds on time and in a manner that she's happy with ( she needs to take pills with milk or she gets nauseous)
  • 3rd Mom's emotional needs (does she feel loved and get enough mental stimulation?)
  • 4th Mom's finances
  • Maintaining our relationship with friends and family, keep in contact somehow, forget those who are demanding, fail to understand that you can't do everything
  • Our home and yard
  • Mom's home and yard
This list has served me well.  I've learned that a few weeds here and there aren't the end of the world, that the roses look just as good without constant deadheading.   I've also learned that it's okay if Mom doesn't have visitors every day, that she WILL survive a brief check up at the doctor on her own and that she will get enough to eat with out my prodding.   She has not changed, my attitude is what's changed.  I've learned to give up some control and stop worrying about what others think of me or of the condition of our home or of her little house and yard.   It's not possible to do it all without killing myself and Mom would not want that.  She'd want me to spend more time visiting with her or taking her out and less time breaking my back. 

Certain aides make life bareable for Mom - my thanks to them

Since Mom's been in assisted living (ALF) and now a nursing home, I've found that certain aides make all the difference when it comes to her sense of well being.   At the ALF there were a four aides that really made Mom's life better.  At her nursing home there are a couple that tell me she's special to them. All have the same thing in common: they were firm but patient, spoke to her in a loving yet NOT condescending manner and showed her affection.   The MOST important trait common to all of these wonderful people is this: they realize that old age is hard and have empathy for the condition of these people.  They understand that they are frustrated by an inability to move or breath easily. They realize that people WANT to do things for themselves but the body is unable.  They give hugs and don't make the residents feel rushed even though there are too many people and not enough time.

Don't get me wrong, not all of the aides and staff that deal with our elders are kind and thoughtful; I've seen plenty of jerks but for the most part, they are kind and try to do right by our elders.