Over all the years I’ve known Annie Oakley, and particularly during the two years or so that we have served as her caregivers, I have become amazed at the percentage of her time that she spends in waiting! Any of you involved with seniors will know that they like to be early for everything. I’ve always suspected this is the case because many of them have very few commitments, and so start getting early for everything they do. But Annie takes this “getting ready” to the extreme.
I have never understood people who prepare for breakfast before they get ready for bed. Yes, I can see that if you have to rise terribly early in the morning to get to work, it can be quite helpful to have certain things laid out to ensure you will get out of the house on time to get to work. So, perhaps setting the table the night before makes sense, and even checking in the fridge, cupboard, etc. to ensure you have enough eggs, cereal, rolled oats, etc. for breakfast. I also can see that figuring out what you will have the next morning and getting pots, etc. ready to use probably is a good call However whenever I’ve tried to make that happen I realize the next morning that I don’t want to eat what I thought I wanted to eat the previous evening, so the morning meal becomes even more chaotic with me having to put some things away and pull others out. But get this; Annie is so regimented about her breakfast that she always puts everything out that she is going to eat (which seems to be the same day after day after day). Even the egg is out on the counter in a bowl, I think warming, perhaps so it will not crack when it hits the boiling water? I really don’t know. Oh, and of course the coffee maker also is ready to go, with water, coffee, and filter set up so that all that has to be done is to push the button. Again, if one has to dash out of the house for an early start, this approach seems reasonable, but when you have nowhere to go at any specific time, why worry in the evening about breakfast the next morning?
On more than a few occasions, Annie and I have clashed on another matter involving getting ready. You see, on Tuesday and Friday mornings, Annie’s bath is scheduled for 11am, at which time the care provider arrives to help ensure Annie will not tumble in or out of the bath tub. On some occasions, when I hear Annie opening and slamming doors shut, I head downstairs to see if I can help her find what she is looking for, or some such thing. Often she is very disgruntled when I appear in her suite, and when I ask “What’s up?” she notes quite angrily that she is waiting, again, for her bath. As I look at the clock in the kitchen, I see that the time is somewhere between 10:30 and 11 am, and I note to Annie that it isn’t quite time for her bath, and that the bather will be here by 11am. Pretty much always her response is a very disgruntled muttering that she hates having to wait for her bath, and why can’t she have it first thing in the morning. And so, I explain for the “uptteenth” time that the bathers have to first take care of the people who cannot get up on their own or get themselves their own breakfast, and since she is capable of doing these things she has to be patient and wait longer for her bath. When we have this conversation in the summertime, I remind Annie that she is welcome to get dressed when she gets up, have her breakfast, and then work in the garden until the bather arrives, since they know where to find her. But, that solution seems to fall on deaf ears, with the grumbling about waiting continuing. When this grumbling happens in the winter, when she doesn’t go outside to garden, I ask her what’s wrong with sitting in her robe for an extra few hours, rather than getting dressed only to get undressed a short while later. While I attempt to keep my own frustrations to myself, one morning not long ago, I lost it a tad and blurted out this question: “Annie, what the heck else would you be doing on a winter morning anyway? All day you are under the covers listening to the radio, so it hardly matters if you are doing so before a bath or after a bath.” While I felt not so great about losing my patience with her, I think I got the message across.
Suffice it to say that Annie is so wrapped up in waiting that I suspect that she never truly pays attention to what is happening in the here and now. And for that, I feel sorry for her, given the here and now is the best place to be!
Yours I caregiving …