English: Elderly woman reading the newspaper, 1930-1940 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
It was a very busy weekend for me not just trying to sort out the old banger of a car to get it through the MOT, it failed miserably by the way! But more importantly my mother and her failing health and other people in need.
Firstly this is in order to paint a picture that will become clearer soon. Simply, just when you are organised, every thing goes wrong! It’s just like God suddenly says, he is have a good time let me add some pain! Well l personally believe it is not God but other” people who ” screw up our lives” many times without any intention, but because they have their’s screwed up by other people!
Anyway it was Friday afternoon, the car had just failed its MOT and l get a call from my mothers care supervisor, saying the carers are worried about my mothers failing health. Also she is hallucinating and trying to get a dog out of a bag and her standing has got worst and in fact, she is not very good at all. Well l said what do you suggest? Well shall l call the doctor or you and l have asked the OT for another urgent appointment. Alright l will go up and see her and ring you later, leave it with me.
Now my mother is 89 years old and over the past 5 years l have studied her way of asking, chatting and above all walking. I have looked at her eating habits and more importantly her drinking of fluids. So when l see her l can and do ask her the right questions to illicit an answer, so l visited, with my partner who by the way is a chef of some 30 years. As she works in a care home planning diets for the people like my mother, l thought her insight maybe helpful!
When l arrived l found her eating a meal l had previously prepared for the week, that can only be described on her plate a a piece of leather, with dried up red stuff mixed with soggy mush. It was in fact a beefburger, chips and tomatoes all the thing she likes, but not when they are burnt into the plate using a microwave that is how they look! As you can imagine she was poking at it like it with her fork, trying to stir some life into it, but to no avail.
Anyway moving swiftly on she was not happy and we removed the offending plate to the bin, with my partners comments l would not eat that myself, let alone expecting your mother. My mother said l was just eating that and now you took it away, you told me to eat!
You see in those days gone by during the war, food was in scarce supply people were grateful for what they were given ,so it was sacrilege we were told as children to leave our meal. We prepare fresh food and a treat as we forget that even though they cannot go shopping anymore and buy their own food, they need us to treat them with an occasional cake or bar of chocolate. Now to finish this section and get on to the deeper reason for my post and its title, l had many times written on the labels on her food, fresh, defrosted and do not overheat. It of course fell on deaf ears, as health and safety was to make sure it was hot.
So here l am being told by the care supervisor of my mothers care service providers she is hallucinating and not standing properly. So and this is the most important statement l will make in this post ” I Asked Her WHY was she looking in her handbag for the dog” ? She said they took it away, it’s here somewhere, l know it is! The item was a picture of her dog Punch, he died but she had a picture of him framed hanging on the wall, but it had gone. I had no even noticed, then l remembered my brother and his wife had cleaned the house on many occasions and moved things into cupboards, as they gained dust and it was cluttered. They had not asked her if they could remove her picture or any other items and she told me when she asked they said it was to make it more tidy. For who l ask, not my mother, she did not mind clutter and anyway these were her memories, not just things but memories that kept her going and gave her something to remember. Well this coming week l am going to replace all these memories back in her room, the room where she lives, not anyone else. Some are broken and worn and some are old and some even do not work, but they are her’s not mine or anyone else’s.
I rang the care manager and she had left for the day, so l left a message she just wanted her memories back, her picture of the dog and someone to care. It fell on deaf ears, as l knew it would by the word ok l will give her the message, anything else?
Next day Saturday phone call to the care services supervisor she was not aware of my phone call and message, as they email each other. Anyway the cot sides had been delivered and she had been up to the hose and fitted them herself. I had asked discuss it with her and the reason why they were being fitted, but that to fell on deaf ears. So that night when she would go to bed it would different and she will react as she does so often, by it being my fault or not drinking or show her dislike, at being treated like a child. I have still to wait for that reaction, but it will come as so often we object and can put over our point. At 89 with slight dementia, unable to walk, bad eyesight and hearing ,the elderly cannot.
My point with this post is to show how it is that when we try to care for someone else we need to be not just aware of their mental and physical capabilities but their life. We need to be interested in them as a person and above all their good and bad memories and not dismiss them with a swish of a pen, as so many agencies and people do these day’s! Many years ago l was at college on an access course and my subject that day was ” Care In The Community” l had to stand up and give my overview of this recent act of 1990. I did not know what to say, except it was written by a man called Griffiths and he was an ex supermarket manager and his way to tackle care was to see everyone as a tin of baked beans on a shelf. He believed that funding would be easily ring fenced for use when these cans of baked beans were ill and needed healthcare.
The problem arose when things do not go according to plan, as my weekend has not. These tins of baked beans are not people with feelings, thoughts and memories they are not ill by order or all at the same time. These people are human beings like us in need of help and guidance, desperate to be loved and cared for and sometimes not able to ask, but most of all unable to ask. We miss the small things in favour of the bigger picture in care. Its more important that they eat and drink we are told by the professionals ,the truth is far more complex. Actually it is not just feed and water them like pot plants, but show them everyday you care and eventually when they trust you, they will respond with a simple thank you. It is not a lot but believe me when it comes it means so much, it makes all that not working, work in your heart.
I finish with a saying of mine and a thought for the day!
” As we stand on the abyss of the greater understanding of knowledge, judge not what you do not understand. As in so judging others your understanding is lessened in the eyes of God”