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SAK: thank you for your comments. I did re-read the post from the beginning. And not knowing a complete history of the mother/daughter relationship in any other case than my own, my comments were based on my experiences. However visiting was the topic. Whether the person is manipulative or understanding, the issue is still:
How much should we visit our loved ones, because enough is never enough? If you can use 'tough love' to make someone behave then by all means use it. But in reality, that doesn't always work either. It can backfire. I saw my brothers use this 'tough love' tactic with my mother even BEFORE her dementia onset, and it only served to make the situation worse. Perhaps some would disagree, but I really believe that people don't remember WHAT you say, but how you say it. You can administer 'tough love' without hurting someone's feelings. For example: telling someone that their family doesn't visit because YOU are driving them away with your anger is not as effective as say..... "I believe your family would visit more if we could get to the root of your anger/annoyance when they do visit" . I will say it again, telling ANYONE whether it is the case or not, that their family doesn't visit because they are mean to their family just seems to add insult to injury. Just my personal opinion, one that I should probably temper more so "I" am not misunderstood. I have learned that how you make someone feel, is more important that what you say!
Although I didn't get paid to work in the rehab/nursing home, after one month of visiting I was invited to be a volunteer by the director of the facility. They were impressed with the way I interacted with the residents, engaging them in activities, getting them to eat, even making them laugh! Since I was at Mom's facility four days a week, 8-9 HOURS a day, I was honoured to be a volunteer, I just didn't get paid. My independent training helped me tremendously. I also educated myself as much as I could in the last six years and continue to learn with every person I meet in every facility. No 'one' approach works all the time. Every person is different, every situation requires a creative approach, while still working within the guidelines of the facility.
I am fully aware of the demands on the staff, I saw first hand how much the staff had to do in a single shift, and also learned (privately) how underpaid and overworked these individuals were. I completely agree that MANY changes are needed to the 'system' and the level of care that is provided to residents.
But I also saw how many just 'showed up' for work, and relied on other staff members (or volunteers) to pick up the slack. The things I noticed were not serious infractions, but in many instances the little things overlooked were more annoying to me than even "I" imagined. Not washing residents hands before meals was a MAJOR issue for me. Personally I saw to it that Mom's hands were clean (even with some resistance) before meals.
I noticed that many of the staff did not even TRY to engage the residents. Very little conversations, or interactions during certain shifts, and believe me I was there for most of the shifts. Shift changes were also a volatile time. On several occasions residents 'slipped' out the FRONT door of a supposed secure wing, or walked outside in the secure area, WITHOUT supervision, one man attempting to climb the FENCE (and he was in his 80's!!) I found another man on the ground outside and had to RUN for help! I did bring ALL of these occurrences to the attention of the proper personnel at the facility and I did notice some changes while I was there in the next few months. This was mostly due to a NEW administrator with more "Alzheimer's experience".
With regards to family visits, I didn't see too many family members visiting, and when they did visit didn't stay long. The family members didn't seem to come prepared, and some had THE longest faces on I have ever seen. If you don't bring anything else, at LEAST bring a smile!
To quote a OLD group... (The animals) "I'm just a soul whose intentions are good... oh LORD.. please don't let me be misunderstood."
1. She is happy, content, and appreciative. She is a pleasure to have aound most of the time. She takes responsibility for her own activities.
2. She expects you to wait on her, include her in all your plans, and arrange a social life for her.
3. She constantly complains that her other children don't visit enough, that you do not invite them often enough, and that it is your fault she doesn't have interesting things to do.
What was she like before she lost her mate? How recently was she widowed? Is she from a background where matchmaking was considered a family responsibility? How old is she? Is she in good health? Is this just a phase she is going through as she adjusts to her retirement community, or is this more likely to be long-term?
She may want to take you on a guilt trip, but you don't really have to go, you know. :) You might try, "I'm sorry you feel that way Mom. I don't see it that way. I guess we'll just have to disagree on that. And speaking of disagreements, have you been following what is going on in the city council? (or a favorite soap opera, or any other chage of topics). I'll bet it doesn't do much good to explain and defend yourself and the other kids.
You are definitely not alone.
Suggestions for those that cannot get their elder to 'join in all the reindeer games'
Find something they love to do... paint, crochet, quilting, cooking. Then get some safe 'supplies' that pertain to that activity. See if you can talk them into providing instruction, or just start the activity yourself. Get them interested and then ask for their HELP.
Start up a painting class (finger painting, non-toxic acrylic painting, or even CAKE decorating supplies used as paint). Use wipeable surfaces, like a lap tray, or a table cloth that is wipeable. Get some inexpensive aprons to protect clothing, and get started!
If they loved to quilt, get THEM to start a class. Collect fabric, or even just look at quilt books.
Flower arranging. buy some inexpensive cut flowers, a few plastic vases, or styrofoam shapes, and get your elder to start up a class!! p.s. you can get flowers that are edible (and safe) so there is NO chance that someone will 'eat something' dangerous. My mother was unwilling to get involved, UNTIL I had her 'spearhead' the event. Then even putting together a simple flower arrangement became a social event!
It takes work, but there is always something they can do! Just don't give up on them, I for one had a mother that was always encouraging me to be creative when I was growing up. If you didn't have a parent like that, then be different and help them, even though they didn't help you. Make a difference in THEIR life!
It is also true that they would not be suitable for everyone. One size does not fit all! My dear 95-year-old Aunt would probably welcome group activities and crafts. That is the kind of thing she has done in the 60+ years I have known her. My mother, on the other hand, has never done a single craft as long as I've known her. Not her thing. I can't remember ever hearing about her doing group activities. All her sisters did. Not my mom. Playing cards, maybe. Finger painting with frosting, I don't think so! I think it would be cruel of us to insist that she do something against her personality, inclinations, and life-long habits, just because she is old (or old and disabled, as the case may be)! My husband (dementia) goes to an adult program 3 days a week. The reason he has lasted there 4 years is that they respect individual differences. They offer all kinds of crafts but they don't insist that everyone particpate. If he'd rather sit in the quiet room and read a book instead of paint flower pots, that is OK.
BTW, as a cake decorator hobbyist, I can tell you that getting edible flowers is tricky. The flower itself may be safe, but virtually everything you buy from a florist will have been chemically treated. Getting them from your garden or a friend's garden may be safe if you know they haven't been sprayed. Flower arranging sounds like an engaging activity. I can't see either my mother or my husband doing it, but they might enjoy a demonstration and watching the activity.
I like your can-do attitude!
The hardest part for me of my husband's dementia was when he was paranoid and accused me of stealing, holding him captive against his will, tried calling the sherrff (sometimes from neighbor's homes) and generally showed no appreciation for the fact I was devoting my life to his care. I got through it with the mantra of "it is not my husband saying these things, it is the disease." I am so glad he is not in that state any more! But I also think that if he goes there again (and who knows, with dementia?) I will be a little better equipped to handle it, knowing a lot more now about what to expect from dementia. I know this: I will not abandon him. I will not give him ultimatums. I will not insist he control behaviors that are not within his control. If I have to move him out of our home, I will visit him as much as humanly possible. He did not get a choice about having dementia. I have a choice about my response. In sickness and in health, for better or for worse, he's the love of my life.
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