Tuesday, 20 December 2011

How can S still be helpful?

S's sense of herself - she still has one - includes, very firmly, a belief that she should be and is helpful to others. This is absolutely correct, she was a single mother from the time her kids were very young and a teacher whose roles were often specifically and always predominantly to do with caring for and helping those in difficulty of one sort or another. I believe she would like to still be doing this sort of thing and is frustrated that this is just one of the things that she can no longer do - or as she sees it - is not allowed to do. I have realised this from listening to numerous versions of a conversation where she is trying to sort out girls' problems (she finished her career, premturely, in a girls' school).

Her daughter and I have found that a sure way to get her co-operation, even when she's angry, is to ask her to help us.

I would love to find some other way(s) that she can be truly helpful and that we can keep praising her for. The cats we have acquired are one possibility. I agreed to the pressure from her daughters as I believe they could help to occupy and calm her but my line will be that by paying attention to them and stroking them she will be helping them - that will be her vital contribution to their care whilst I'll do the easy things like feeding them (though, of course I'll stroke them a bit too!).

If anyone else has any ideas - it's very hard - please let me know by commenting.

1 comment:

  1. Mom daily says she wants to die because she is of no use to anyone. She took care of her mother who died at 98, never demented; then she took care of my dad who had diabetes, very brittle, for 40 years; and then after his death and the sale of her home and moving to an independent retirement apartment, she "adopted" a legally blind man and took care of him, taking him to dinner, filling his plate, and they became best friends. In the dementia ward, everyone else is so much further down the trail of dementia that they don't talk or visit, just sit and stare and hold their dolls. Mom can's see a way to be of use to them. Her gift has always been service and caring for others, and now that she's the one being taken care of, she feels useless. S probably has the same thoughts. As an ex-teacher, I too know how she feels about having been important to kids in the classroom, and now that is over, and I'm sure she misses it. I pray you find a way to make her feel useful. I'd love ideas too.