Is it Obstinate or Fearful?

By Donna RandallAnnie Oakley, , With 0 comments

Should you be “blessed” with a very strong willed elder for whom you are caregiving, this blog post might well speak to you about senior care. In addition, I hope it will help you see your elder’s behaviour in a new light.

Annie always has liked to do everything her own way…you know, my way or the highway. In addition, she has lived much of her life as a single woman who had no need to compromise with a partner. Accordingly, as she has aged she has become fully and completely set in her ways. Not a pushover myself, we two have locked horns on a number of issues, often resolving issues to the best of our abilities, but without feeling we’ve given in. Lately, however, Annie has become rather rabid in behaviour over things that seem to me, and to her 70-year-old Robbie (her son and my husband) to be minor issues. Most of our issues revolve around keeping Annie and her clothing, living space etc. clean, with Annie never admitting that her garments or surrounding needing to be cleaned.

Just this past week (several years into our caregiving arrangement), I experienced a great ah-ha that I suspect will serve to lessen the number of battles we have, not because Annie will take a new tact but rather that I will do so. You see, in both of these situations, Annie became unreasonably afraid because I had washes some of her clothes and did not return them to the exact place that she had left them, which were in bright places that contrasted with these garments. Once I made this observation, I thought about the fact that Annie never wants us to put her clothing into closets and cupboards, but rather to leave them strewn around the bed and atop the dresser. Suddenly it came clear to me that she no longer can see these garments unless they are in contrast to the background, but she will be damned if she will admit that her eyesight is dwindling. And now I understand her fear that turns into anger because she is not willing to utter the truth.

Since these two altercations occurred, I have thought a lot about the role of my own currently diminished eyesight, and have determined that I probably would not yet understand Annie’s trauma and behaviour changes without my current situation. So, while I am not thankful for my own vision traumas, I feel relieved that it has allowed me to help Annie in a way that will lead to less fear for her and much less aggravation for me. In other words, for Annie I can be a better caregiver.

Yours in Caregiving,


Photo courtesy morgueFile