Being a caregiver can take a lot of time, energy, and patience. And if you’ve been providing care for any length of time, you know “patience” can sometimes be your weakest point. Have you ever become frustrated and said things like:
“I told you that yesterday.”
“Don’t you listen to me?”
You might have even said it with a tad bit more frustration than you’d intended.
Your parents might already know their memory and cognitive ability isn’t what it was when they were younger. These constant reminders can only fuel their frustrations. And when both sides of the caregiving table are upset, nothing good can come of it.
You might have justification to be annoyed. But as the caregiver, it is your responsibility to find the best approach. How must your mom or dad feel as they realize they can’t do things the way they once did? With just this in mind, you can start to see how simple changes can mean everything.
“I told you that yesterday.”
Let’s start with one of the most common phrases. Daily life is filled with little things. Getting ready for the day. Preparing a meal. Watching television. It seems simple enough, but have you upgraded their technology and they aren’t quite sure how to use it?
New televisions have remote controls straight out of the future. There are buttons on top of buttons. And the writing – forget about reading it. Even if it did make sense, they might not have a clue about what it is. Roku? All they want to do is watch a show. And it can lead to a lot of frustration.
If you find yourself saying, “I told you that yesterday” multiple times on the same subject, look for a solution. In the case of the complicated television, talk with your cable provider or do a little research online and invest in a senior-friendly remote that can the process easier. And save the “complicated” remote for when you watch television.
“You can do it yourself.”
Sometimes your parent complains about simple tasks, things you assume they should be able to do themselves. Tying a shoelace. Buttoning a coat. Changing a lightbulb. What they don’t want to tell you is it’s difficult for them, or even downright impossible. It adds shame into an already difficult situation, where they realize they can’t perform at a level they used to handle easily.
Stop and take a moment to see how they perform the task. Watch and see where the problem lies. Maybe they can bend over to complete the task. Maybe their fingers can move or grasp the way they would like. And rather than telling you, the task just doesn’t get done. But if you watch and see where the problem lies, you can look for solutions. Instead of shoelaces, how about slip-ons? There’s always a solution to make things a little bit easier.
“You need to use your cane/walker.”
Needing assistance to walk is a sign of getting old. And no matter how old a person gets, they always think old is way off in the future. Including your parents.
You might realize using a cane or walker gives them more stability, and can make them more mobile. But to them, it’s a sign of weakness. As a result, few will use it unless they see the advantages. This is your in.
Focus on what they can do if they use it. “I love our walks and I want to make sure you don’t trip and fall and break something.” This is usually one of the best paths to success. They don’t want to break anything either.
If you look for ways to keep your own stress levels down, chances are you can pass that along to your aging parent. Patience is the key. The adage of “stop and smell the roses” comes to mind. If you spend your time in the now, doing what you can to make each moment its best, you’ll both enjoy the process a lot more.